University of Hertfordshire

Has government been mediatized? A UK perspective

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  • Ruth Garland
  • Damian Tambini
  • Nick Couldry
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)496-513
Number of pages18
JournalMedia, Culture and Society
Early online date13 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018


There has been little empirical research to date on the consequences of mass media change for the processes of government in the United Kingdom, despite a well-documented concern since the 1990s with ‘political spin’. Studies have focussed largely on the relative agenda setting power of political and media actors in relation to political campaigning rather than the actual everyday workings of public bureaucracies, although UK case studies suggest that the mass media have influenced policy development in certain key areas. The study of government’s relations with media from within is a small but growing sub-field where scholars have used a combination of methods to identify ways in which central bureaucracies and executive agencies adapt to the media. We present the results of a preliminary study involving in-depth interviews with serving civil servants, together with archival analysis, to suggest that media impacts are increasingly becoming institutionalized and normalized within state bureaucracies: a process we identify as mediatization. A specific finding is a shift in the relationship between government, media and citizens whereby social media is enabling governments to become news providers, bypassing the ‘prism of the media’ and going direct to citizens.

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