Policymaking is a complicated and long process, which depends on many factors. In this essay, it is shown how interest groups and mass media can be involved in the process. It is also investigated if this influence is positive or negative.
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The influence of interest groups policymaking
An interest group is a group of people or organizations that cooperate due to different shared concerns in order to influence policymaking by lobbying patronizing politicians. It is hard to determine, whether interest groups are desirable in public policy or not because they surely have strong pros and cons.
On the one hand, interest groups can provide the government with valuable information, help to identify problems, apply pressure to place those problems on the policy agenda and even supply possible remedies (Peters, 2007). So, interest groups can bring potential benefits.
On the other hand, in particular cases, interest groups’ activity becomes a reason for corrupt practices and even can cause state capture. The undue influence of interest groups can occur in different ways, and those ways are not even always illegal. For example, interest groups can try to reach an agreement with public officials by making general donations or promising them desirable positions in exchange for their support in shaping regulations.
So, although interest groups’ activity is not negative and corrupt itself, if it is disproportionate and opaque, bad consequences may follow. To avoid such kind of outcome interest groups’ activity and lobbying practice should be adequately regulated, and for this purpose, a set of different laws exists (Terrance & Clifford, 2011).
Mass media in policymaking
It is useless to deny, that mass media play a significant role in the policymaking process, especially at the beginning.
First of all, as well as interest groups, mass media can help to place different problems on the policy agenda, so later these problems will be dealt with by policymakers and politicians. This issue is critical, because “if an issue cannot be placed on the agenda, it cannot be considered” (Peters, 2007).
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Mass media can draw public attention to a certain problem or a person involved in policymaking. Media can also show different policy solutions, impose some point of view and, eventually, even change an outcome of a policy debate. Sometimes the same problem can be shown from different sides in order to highlight or hide something. Considering all mentioned above, mass media are rather important not only in the early stages of policymaking but throughout all this process.
It also should be mentioned that not only mass media can influence public opinion, but in particular circumstances, it can be true in the opposite direction (Uscinski, 2009). Here is an example of how these two aspects can interact.
The publication in 1963 of Michael Harrington’s The Other America and the growing mobilization of poor people brought the problem of poverty to the agenda and indirectly resulted in the launching of war to eradicate it. Once placed on the agenda, poverty has remained an important public issue, although administrations have given different amounts of attention to it (Peters, 2007).
To sum up, both interest groups and mass media have a great influence on the policymaking process, as well as both of these factors can be positive or negative depending on the situation. In order to minimize the negative effects, mass media and interest groups activity should be adequately regulated by the government.
Peters, B. G. (2007). American Public Policy: Promise and Performance (7th ed.). Washington, DC: CQ Press.
Terrance, G. G., & Clifford, D. S. (2011). Toward a Public Policy and Marketing Understanding of Lobbying and Its Role in the Development of Public Policy in the United States. Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, 30(1), 89-95.
Uscinski, J. E. (2009). When Does the Public’s Issue Agenda Affect the Media’s Issue Agenda (and Vice-Versa)? Developing a Framework for Media-Public Influence. Social Science Quarterly, 90(4), 796-815.