"Unless mass views have some place in the shaping of policy, all the talk about democracy is nonsense" - V.O. Key said that in 1961 in his book Public Opinion and American Democracy. It reminded me of the discussion that Sina, Taeku, and I have had on this blog with regard to John Kingdon's Agendas, Alternatives, and Public Policies. When reading this eminent work, I had been surprised how little influence the media and public opinion were supposed to have on policy making. According to Kingdon, the will of the public had considerably smaller effects on policy than the President, Capitol Hill, and lobbyists in the U.S. of the 1970s, putting policy making somewhat closer to nonsense than it should be.
When you're advocating for a better understanding of the media's role in policy making and governance reform, nothing is as disheartening as a well done study that questions the media's role on the basis of sound evidence. Even when you can make a good argument that the study doesn't tell the whole story - you just know that experts in policy making and in academia will buy into what that study argues.
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.