The Mediatization of the Political Image in the XXI Century – Content Analysis of the Portuguese Newspapers

GT 4.10 La mediatización de la política

Célia Belim Rodrigues (Instituto Superior de Ciências Sociais e Políticas (ISCSP), Universidade Técnica de Lisboa (UTL))
We live in an image society (Pierre Guiraud), on a Marconi Galaxy (Martine Joly): politicians, image assessors, marketeers, Public Relations, etc. sell images, the public opinion conceive images, decide and act by images and the world is full of images and works by them. The media have a vital role in the process of defining images, due to show the world according to various perspectives and are the main and, on majority of cases, the unique way of citizens know what is happening. The citizens depend of media to feel they control reality (dependency theory) and, through the exposure to news, photos and television images, catch images as "echoes" of facts. The politicians, in electoral campaigns, intend to spread out the most benefic images about them and depreciative images of their rivals, in order to conquest the higher possible number of votes. And in power, the elected ones pretend to diffuse positive images of their performance to guarantee their maintenance. Maquiavel has said that the Prince has to gain the hearts of his people. The activity of manufacturing images and consent never ends (Noam Chomsky). Which political images do newspapers/media show in the XXI century? Which political values are present in the front pages of newspapers? Which are the political perceptions that citizens make by the referred exposure? Which is the role of digital media in this system? Which (new and old) techniques do politicians use to transmit a better image of themselves? How to announce a sensitive political decision to citizens without denigrate its own image? It’s an aim to reflect in these ideas and in the significance of image for the process of political communication. To do that we will apply the content analysis method to the Portuguese higher circulation newspapers in the XXI century.