Almost everywhere, political leaders don't work with the strange animal known as 'the Public'. They work with 'key stakeholders' when they have to. And they prefer to decide a policy then 'consult' key stakeholders. Then they get on with the business of governing. There are at least three reasons for this.
In the developed world, radio is a more or less dying medium. In the age of iPods, who needs to switch on a radio to listen to music? Much less to listen to political talk, which you get anywhere from your local newspaper (preferably online) to cable television (also online, of course).
Most editorial cartoons make a forceful point in a playful manner. I think the artful combination of wit and cheeky criticism explains their popular appeal and potential effectiveness, but also hints at a possible limitation. Historical studies of political cartoons (see Backer, 1996 and Neiman Reports, 2004) describe the ways in which Martin Luther in the 16th century, Benjamin Franklin in the 18th century, and people like Thomas Nast and Herb Block in the 19th and 20th centuries, respectively, satirized the political economies of their day through illustration.
Mohandas Gandhi once declared, in his inimicably insightful and economical manner that “those who say religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion is.” The same could be said, in obverse, of politics vis-à-vis religion. We often bemoan the paucity of concrete policy debates in an election or lampoon incumbent presidents for declaring a “mission accomplished” we
Having spent a considerable part of my professional and academic life thinking and writing about the public sphere, it still amazes me how nebulous this concept is, and how difficult it is to be clear about what we mean when we talk about "the public sphere." Academics write multi-volume books
Colleagues have previously argued on this blog that public opinion is a critical force in conflict transformation and peace building. It makes intuitive sense that serious assessment of the viability of peace processes requires taking stock of various societal forces -- not just the political will of elites but also the public will comprised of the preferences of various stakeholder groups.
Every morning last week I stumbled through the public foyer in the United Nations Headquarters on my way to work (which was speaking to spokespeople – a tall order). It wasn’t until Friday that I stopped to take a look at the exhibition that I had largely rushed by, running a slalom course through visiting tourists all week.
Roumeen Islam is manager of the World Bank Institute's Poverty Reduction and Economic Management Division. She is an economist by training and, I might add, by conviction. But to anybody who cares seriously about the role of the mass media in development, Roumeen is much admired in a particular capacity: as someone who has made a sterling contribution to how the media is viewed within international development.