The role of the media in UK politics

Showing the various types of media which influence voting behaviour

The UK has a strong, independent media history with different newspaper titles, television and radio channels. The media’s role is to inform the public on important local, national and international issues that affect the people of Scotland and the UK.

Many people in the UK continue to get their political news from newspapers. Thousands are sold every day and many people read a newspaper online. In the UK the most widely read ‘popular’ newspapers are the Sun and the Daily Mail. The most widely read ‘quality’ newspapers are The Telegraph and the Times.

Unlike broadcast media, print media is not legally required to maintain a neutral stance. This means different newspapers can choose to report the news in different ways. In their choice of stories, pictures and headlines, newspapers can take a one-sided approach to news reporting

At the time of an election newspapers are often very clear as to which political party they support, urging their readers to vote for one political party or another. However, this does not mean that all voters are persuaded by the newspaper they read. Many people buy a newspaper for other reasons, such as sport, or are not influenced by what they read.

Television (and radio) political news reporting is different from newspapers as the law requires them to be fair and balanced. Television companies are expected to report the facts and to be balanced in their analysis. Representatives from different political parties are each expected to be allowed to give their views on important issues. In recent years, a number of TV debates have been broadcast involving the leaders of different parties.

Increasingly people in the UK are switching to the internet as a source of information, especially social media. As the internet allows almost anyone to post almost anything they choose, some of the information on the internet is not accurate.

However, the internet does allow people almost unlimited access to information which means people are better informed than ever before. For political parties in Scotland, the internet offers the chance to connect directly with voters and to get their opinions across.