09 Personalising


Celebrities or politicians?

Carles Pont

Personification exists in all areas of life, but in politics and communication this dimension has enormous importance. When we talk about politics, people relate it to a type of leadership that is indispensable for organizing election campaigns or when governments need to communicate. In the theory of post-modern campaigns proposed by researcher Pippa Norris the author draws up a classification of election campaigns based on three distinct stages: a) the pre-modern (mid-nineteenth century until 1950); b) modern (1960s to 1980s); c) and post-modern (from the early 1990s until today). Norris says that today’s campaigns are characterized by high monetary costs because of the use of professional consultants, prolific use of the media, the emergence of the internet, and the excessive personalization of the figure of the leader. Concerning this point the British researcher points out that the growth of populism in the media and consequently in politics leads to excessive attention being paid to political leaders’ private lives and feelings. The media are often more concerned with the image projected by politicians: whether they wear a tie or not, have short or long hair, their partner’s jobs, whether they have had extra-marital relationships, and so on.

However, leaders cannot only live from this emotional dimension or the communication skills of their advisers. In the resolution of conflict, which is where politics essentially happens, we can see whether the politician is really up to the job and whether what he or she says is consistent with the party or the ideology it represents.

Gesticulating through media overexposure to convey the tactical message is a widespread tendency among politicians, including those involved in what some call the “new” politics. The creation of new media celebrities, especially on television, is not synonymous with finding better managers of the common interest. Being a star politician can easily lead to a politician’s demise if they disregard the fact that good oratorical skills, the systematic pursuit of a policy or ideological and emotional prerogatives are the only values that make a politician a good public manager.

Carles Pont

Carles Pont

Director of the Masters in Journalism and Communication, UPF Barcelona School of Management


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