It’s Just for Fun: Politics and Entertainment
In a candid description of his company, News Corporation, Rupert Murdoch once remarked: ‘We are in the entertainment business’ (quoted in Shawcross, 1992: 261). With this aside, Murdoch called into question an assumption that lurks in much analysis of the politics of the media, that any such discussion should be confined to news and current affairs. Television schedules and newspaper layouts draw seemingly neat boundaries around what is ‘politics’ and what is ‘entertainment’. These boundaries are marked in a variety of ways: by a tone of voice and a style of writing, by format and layout. As viewers and readers, we are given these clues as to how to respond to what is before us, whether we should take it seriously as information or political debate, or whether we should be amused by it. In thinking about the representation of politics in mass media, there is a strong temptation to reproduce this distinction; to concentrate exclusively upon those areas of mass media which deal with what is formally designated ‘politics’ (that is, news, documentaries and current affairs). But this formal distinction between what counts as ‘politics’ and what does not is not as clear as it sometimes seems.
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