Public Policy and Journalists' Perception in Pakistan.

Byline: Muhammad Jawed Aslam, Noshina Saleem and Muhammad Zakria Zakar


The television channels have capacity to intrude in policy making corridors and change the perception about policy issues. Policy makers pay attention to those issues which has been on media's top priority.1'2 The coverage of particular issues in television channels put the pressure on government to take political decisions.3

Occasionally, in the process of public policy formation, the government leaks any public policy decision to media just to check public feedback on that issue, if got positive public opinion, policy initiative can be done otherwise modification or reversal is decided by concerned authorities. The policy goes through certain phases and media influence it at every stage.4

On other hand, media also choose some stories according to their will and choice and make planned changes in issues or present in different ways to alter the public opinion.5In that process the news sources of journalists also influence the process of public policy. Jounalists are sometimes influenced by elites or power groups resulted in change of public opinion and policy.6

According to Hofferbert and Urice7 and Mazmanian and Sabatier8social and economic factors also influence public policy. Therefore, it is the duty of the journalists to take responsibility and show professionalism while covering the socio-political events, on the other hand government as well as politicians should also be careful to handle issues which affect people on large scale.9

Therefore, the present study explores to what extend the social factors like his/her job experience, education, location and his/her status of Job influence their perception about government performance and their level of satisfaction about government policies for resolving public issues for public policy formation on social issues addressed by government in Pakistan.The journalist who pens down the news stories also consumes the media, if he/she does so, how much he/she feels the role of media especially electronic channels in public policy formation? This is the area which researcher tries to explore while exploring the media consumption patterns of journalists in Pakistan and their perceptions towards the performance of government to address the major social issues since 2012 which were highlighted and discussed by Pakistani media specially Pakistani Television Channels.

In these issues, researcher selected Women Protection Bill, Dengue Fever, Energy Crisis, and Judicial Crisisdue to time given and highlighted by Pakistani media to these issues.

The figure1 shows that journalists' demographic characteristics influence their media consumption patterns, their perception about government and their level of satisfaction about government policy to resolve the public issues and of journalists' perception about the role of electronic channels in public policy formation.

The researchers believe that political system and politicians are influenced easily by media campaign as common people do.10'11 They set their priorities by watching media coverage and cater public opinion.12'13 Politicians often acknowledge media because they are of afraid of losing from constituencies.14Law makers and voters do pay attention to those issues which are of their interest. There areoften high levels of equivalence among those issues that are of concern to the public.15

The process of policy making and the role of media on public policy making are directly or indirectly related to the politics and government of any particular county. Therefore, the process of policy making should be understood before proceeding further.

Public Policy Making

Goodinand othersdiscussed that politics and policy making is mostly a matter of persuasion. Policy makers must carry people with them, if their determination is to have the full force of policy. They are highly technocrat persons who are experts in designing, implementation and feedback assessment measurement.16 The organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in its report statistics, knowledge and policyelaborated that in today's complex society structure, political and sociopolitical issues are very important to handle smartly with proper calculation to measure fidelity of the policy making process.17Geurtssuggested that policy makers should design tighter heterogeneous activities that may result in beneficial formulation of public policy making.18

Influence of Media on Public Policy Making

The set of issues that people happen to have in their heads at any given time can besaidt as "public agenda".19Zahid observed that media has very powerful role in political socialization, Media gives them self-reliance, confidence and awareness on socio political issues prevailing in the society.20

Davidin his article stated that media exerted pressure on policy decisions in elections days, politicians make tall promises near election and in election campaign, media catches that statements and flash in their news and programs content, ultimately pressure is built on policy makers of political party's section. Another factor is replacement of broadcast media with print media and media continues play sound bites of the politicians and public opinion take important place in policy making domain.21

Sorokain his research article studied relationships between media, public opinion and foreign policy process in US and UK. Agenda setting techniques was used to measure the influence. He observed and collected strong connection between salience of foreign affairs in media and for public. Researcher observed that media of both countries broadcast foreign policy agendas in their prime-time that exerted pressure and influence on public opinion.22

Davidin his article mass media and public policy stated that well educated voters receive sufficient detail from media outlets regarding public policies from the state and opposition parties and media ultimately highlight those policies which earlier influence on public policy. Media broadcast what she thinks best to catch popular wave of the public opinion.23

Koch-Baumgarten and Voltmer in their edited book Mass Media and Public Policy compiled and edited different articles based on the study of mass media and public policy. In the first part of the book, they stated that media has sometimes direct impact on what people think, what they need and on the other hand media make the politiciansrealized about the relevant issues that were highlighted by media campaign, forcing the politicians to think on same lines as media portrayed. They also claimed that if media runs policy issues for short term, policy makers do not take such agenda serious and delay tactics are done to set further priorities.24

The above mentioned studies conclude that public opinion is very important in forming of public policy. If media set the perception of those (journalists) who contribute in the formation of public opinion then it exert more pressure.

Therefore, following research questions are set on this ground;

RQ1. To what extend the media consumption patterns of journalists to predict the perception about government performance and level of satisfaction to resolve public issues?

RQ2. To what extend the demographic variables moderate the media consumption patterns of journalists to predict the perception about government performance and level of satisfaction to resolve public issues?

RQ3. To what extend the Electronic News Channels moderate the media consumption patterns of journalists to predict the perception about government's performance and level of satisfaction to resolve public issues?

The researcher get the answers of these research questions within the theoretical perspective of Agenda Setting and Media Advocacy.

Agenda Setting Theory

The mass media may well determine the important issues. In choosing and displaying the news, the editors, newsroom staff, and broadcasters play...

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