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This theory was postulated in the year 1976 by Robinson though later many more aspects were added by the other theorists. Most of the research in this theory was conducted in the United States and at the end the theorists had a difference in thought.

media malaise theory

One who completely blamed the television for the malaise while the other believing more in the generalization than blaming one media. The first group includes Becker, Whitney, Patterson while the latter includes Bennet, Rhine and Newton.

Media Malaise Theory

The way media cover news or puts it before the public has a negative impact on the society as a whole. It mainly stresses on the political sphere, the declining of public trust, the political cynicism etc.

In the world of competition today the news channels only search for sensational news like scandal, conflict, drama to attract the audience. They do not give a fair coverage to the existing stories as a fresh and bigger story is searched.

As world wide news is covered there is an instant process of the delivering news and a break through and constant facts are given barely explaining the details which creates a state of confusion. This has a definite negative effect on politics and politicians.

To have more coverage the politicians attack their opponents and do negative things rather than acting positively and hence the good work done by them are gone untold. It creates a constant ambience of mistrust, and cynicism.

A constant negative vibe is created and the political sphere environment is disrupted.

In the UK it was seen that many times before election political news put more stress on people and they tend to avoid these news items and also stop buying newspapers and television tends to make the politicians less accountable to the public.

This has a malign effect on the foundations of democracy and inevitably affects the stability of the Government affecting the public life as well.

Video Malaise

Along with this theory a common word is often used, ‘Video malaise’.  This word was postulated as the theory stands strong for television. A theorist Robinson said if an individual comes to know about news from the television rather than the other media he is a victim of ‘video malaise’.

He suggested a negative link between media and the coverage of politics and through his studies found that people more rely on television for politics. The way the news stories are covered it creates a distorted image of the entire scenario. The interpretation of the news then becomes all wrong. But the people whose secondary source is the television is said to be better equipped to understand and interpret the event.

One should always have a good source of newspaper or some other form of media to inform him first, only then a fair way of understanding is possible.

Hence this theory mainly states that there is constant declining trust and a negative vibe among politicians which affect the functioning of the democracy and also reduces the public participation in politics.

But, the theory is held for all types of media and hence the term media malaise is used. It is used as in the modern era, the media creates alienation, diffusion, cynicism etc.


To expose the politicians the scandals and scams are shown widely, instead of voting the right party the people just like to stay away from elections.

But even this theory has been challenged by mobilization theory and virtuous circle theory which tends to argue that the media has a positive effect on the people. The media informs the people, the right and wrongs happening in the society and as a whole has a positive effect.

{ 3 comments… add one }
  • Khaled Alyami December 31, 2019, 2:49 am

    Thanks again for another great clarification.

  • Khalid January 20, 2020, 6:09 pm

    Very attractive and based on fact.

  • JOHN WANDAGA July 11, 2023, 12:20 pm

    So insightful

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