passive accomplice or active disruptor
full title: Passive accomplice or active disruptor: The role of audiences in the mediatization of politics
author: Tamara Witschge
year of publication: 2014
published in: Journalism Practice
keywords: audience participation, commercial logic, digital media logic, media logic, mediatization of politics
the role of audiences in the mediatization of politics
Mediatization of politics in the institutional perspective is commonly taken to refer to the interactions between political actors and media actors, where the first become increasingly governed by media logic and the latter become increasingly independent from other institutions. Even though we could picture the relations between the different constituents as a triangle with audience, media and political actors as equally important corners, the institutionalist perspective does not give equal attention to the audience as actor in the process.
In this article, I ask to what extent audience participation in news production affects our understanding of the process of mediatization of politics. I discuss both how audience participation can be seen as a challenge to media’s role in politics (challenging the current conceptualization of mediatization of politics) as well as how the theory of mediatization can be seen to be confirmed by currently dominant audience participation practices. In the first understanding, we can argue that audience participation challenges independence of institutional media actors (to give more power to both audiences and politicians). In the latter understanding, audience participation can be seen to be governed by the same commercial interests as other media production and in addition that both mainstream and alternative media are subject to search engine logic. This article then calls for a critical examination of our understanding of mediatization of politics to do justice to the multiplicity of logics informing media practices, the multiplicity of actors producing news and, crucially, the interaction between those logics and actors.