Politics, Media Systems and Governance: The Battle for the Public Opinion Sphere in Latin America

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Great efforts have been made in comparative analysis in the field of political communication. However, according to Pfetsch and Esser (2014), this area of study is still under construction and several questions remain open. At the same time, most of the research in the area refers to the western world. The vast region of Latin America with its over half a billion people represents a challenge that invites appropriate inquiry in order to understand the dynamics of the relationship between politics and communication as well as its effect on governance and the public opinion sphere. In this context, my interest is focused on how the media relate to politics in Latin America and how this relationship interacts with democratic governance. Since the beginning of the century, we have witnessed a struggle between politics and the media for building the public agenda in order to guide the attention of the public towards issues that reflect their respective interests. In countries like Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Venezuela, governments have confronted the media, sometimes aggressively. Most governments in the region have reformulated their regulatory frameworks in the field of communication, often enough with the aim of limiting the influence of the media in politics. Widespread disaffection towards the political parties may have driven the media to step in as mediators between the people and the decision-makers. As a consequence, the media are seen as competing actors in the struggle for political power. As pointed out by Kessler and Focás (2014), many governments blame the media for the public's negative perceptions regarding certain issues. Ecuador and Venezuela are cases in point> their governments routinely attrib... ... middle of paper ... ...nce with the evolving nature of the data analysis process. Projected outcome I am confident that my research will contribute to the systematic characterization of the relationship dynamics between politics and the media in Latin America. In some countries governments control the media almost completely while in others the media enjoy varying degrees of freedom. I hope to comprehend the impact of new information and communication technologies and social networks on media systems, how politics respond to these challenges and how they affect governance. Taking into account the regional particularities, the differences between countries in terms of political culture, the differences in political systems and the differences in the structure and scope of the media, I will endeavor to open novel alleys for the comparative study of politics and communication in L.A.

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