Friday, September 21, 2007

Power Relations - Who's In Control?

The media has always been a force to be reckoned with. It can influence almost every aspect of your life. From the way you choose your groceries, to the manner in which you pick who to vote in the next elections, media has in one way or another guided/influenced your decision. Such is the amount of power that media has over society today that it's not surprising that professionals who make out a living out of it go toe to toe with the other powers that be in society. Which powers are these? From political/religious leaders, to corporate leaders and business moguls, the media has in one way or another had a relationship with each and everyone of these. In this blog entry, I'll be detailing the types of power relations between the media and other sources of power in society.

According to the Agenda Setting Theory of Media, there are four different types of power relations that the media and other factions are involved in. Take note that these relationships are not stagnant and it is not uncommon for circumstances to change the balance of power in any given time.

First Type of Power Relations
High-Power Source and High-Power Media

In this relationship, the media and "insert entity here" have a symbiotic relationship that, in effect, exert a huge amount of influence over the opinion of the general public. What do we mean by this? Here you have the media and the faction concerned either seeing eye to eye with one another, or evenly clashing on a specific issue. In the case of the politics, when a certain political candidate is favored by a media entity, more often than not you will find the media backing up the views of the politician as well as featuring him prominently in their programs. On the other hand, in the event that the media and the faction concerned directly clash on a view and both of them have a considerable amount of influence over the public (i.e. a popular figure versus an equally prominent media entity) there is sure to be a clash of ideals and a struggle between the both of them.

An example of this relationship would be found in the video below.

While it is not implicit here, you have a member of the Royal Family actively suppressing the media from speaking or commenting about the scandal involving himself. While we don't know whether this is true or not, we see the media retaliating in equal force through the tabloids and here in John Stuart's show.

Second Type of Power Relations
High-Power Source and Low-Power Media

Now in this situation, the media is at the disadvantage and has a reduced amount of influence over society. The high-power source in this context will most likely co-opt the media structure to forward his/her own ends. In the Philippines this is quite common for corporate moguls who happen to own their own publications alongside their other commercial ventures. In the event that any of their assets are embroiled in a scandal (tax evasion, violation of environmental regulations, neglect of media/social ethics) they make it a point to order their publications to tread lightly on the subject and do some damage mitigation or abandon the topic altogether to avoid further damage. (Let's not name names for the time being) Another example would also be of media being used by dictatorial governments for propaganda or heavy censorship. The press would literally have no freedom unless the content is approved by government censors. This technique was employed by Marcos during his dictatorship, where there was little or no press freedom, and he might have learned it from the Japanese who occupied the country years before him. Both Marcos and the Japanese utilized the media to spread their ideals and dictates to the Filipino people, and for a time this was all the people had to rely on for information.

Third Type of Power Relations
Low-Power Source and High-Power Media

Here, the media has sole responsibility over their own agenda. The low-power source has little or no ability to respond to the media due to lack of public support and influence. Examples of this would be the minority groups in the Philippines ranging from homosexuals, to communist rebels and Muslim extremists. The government and other powers in society usually leave the media to their own when it comes to dealing with these marginalized groups because of the little effect reporting on the matter will have on themselves. Even the media wouldn't care much about what these groups' agendas are and would only cover them when in times of conflict or controversy.

Fourth Type of Power Relations
Low-Power Source and Low-Power Media

This situation rarely happens, but it is most commonly seen in times of conflict or disaster. The media or public leaders do not have much in the way of control in what the public agenda would be in times of natural disasters such as typhoons or landslides, or times of war and conflict such as the September 11 attacks. Here the events themselves establish what the public is to think/talk about for days to come. Below is a video of the CNN coverage of September 11, 2001. The event was solely responsible for the shock and fear experienced by people around the globe.

Well, there you have it the four types of power relations outlined in the Agenda Setting theory. More on how this affects you and me in the next posts.

The Four Fiercest Fights.

On the lighter side: Ever wonder what goes on in the mind of a head honcho?


The Agenda- Setters of the Philippines.

Bets anyone?

Fight # 1: The Television Tycoons

Gabby Lopez, ABS CBN 2

One family. One station. One Kris Aquino to beat them all.


Felipe Gozon, GMA 7

Hindi namin kayo tatantanan!

Fight # 2: The Publishing Honchos

Emilio Yap, Manila Bulletin

Ako publisher, Ako editor.


Sandy Prieto, PDI

Balanced News, fearless views...
and endless libel suits.

and another contender...

Liza Gokongwei-Cheng, Summit Media

Magazines? I heart them ALL.

Fight # 3: The Mall Moguls

Henry Sy, SM Supermalls

We got it all for you!
We got ALL MALLS too!


Robina Gokongwei-Pe, Robinsons' Malls

Well, at least my malls are named after ME.

Fight # 4: The University Presidents

Bro. Armin Luistro, DLSU

The future begins by teaching our students how to spell.


Fr. Ben Nebres, AdMU

We are men for others: we have lives beyond basketball.

Disclaimer: these statements were made by the author for laughter's sake only. They were not, in any way, said by the authorities in the pictures.