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Legal System | Law Making

Media: Evaluation

Model Answer | A Level

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Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of media influence in Parliamentary law making

Media have wide audiences so can increase public awareness and engagement in the legislative process. The media are in a position to collate public opinions through letter pages or forums and so can gage public concern about issues.

The media can provide support to pressure groups in their efforts, for example the Daily Mail supported the Snowdrop campaign, after the Dunblane massacre, leading to tighter gun control law in the Firearm Act 1997. The media have access to politicians to ask questions so can provide direct pressure on the legislators. Media can help create so much publicity to produce a political climate for change, for example through saturation coverage of Jamie Oliver's campaign which resulted in The Education (Nutritional Standards for School Dinners) Regulations 2006, to improve food served to children at schools.

Media influence can be seen as a knee jerk reaction, for example after a few cases involving injury from dogs the newspapers encouraged a change in the law which lead to the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. This Act has been heavily criticised for being speedily introduced and therefore badly drafted culminating a case surrounding its insufficiencies (Brock).

Generally, media influence can promote sensationalised journalism and opinions given are not objective. As media organisations are commercially driven rather than concerned with legislation it can be unfair for them to be influencing policy or law. The media ownership is unequal and so gives a disproportionate voice to a few and influence over legislation makes the media even more powerful.

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