The way Parliament is covered by the media has been singled out for criticism in a high-level report.
The report claims that most MPs are ignored by the media most of the time and that almost all the business of the House of Commons goes unreported.
And it says that many people are often only made aware of politicians through coverage of personal indiscretions, idiosyncrasies or "sleaze".
"We should perhaps, not be surprised if the public then believe that politicians as a social species are dishonest, self-interested or irrelevant," the report says.
"MPs And Politics In Our Time" is written by John Healey, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Mark Gill, head of political research at the Ipsos - MORI Social Research Institute, and Declan McHugh, Director of the Hansard Society's Parliament and Governance Programme.
They write: "There is little doubt that political coverage, particularly of Parliament, could be improved. Most MPs are ignored by the media most of the time.
"Almost all the business of the House of Commons goes unreported. If we want the public to be less detached from politicians, then the media must shoulder some responsibility.
"If we want politicians to be able to confront the big issues of our age - security, climate change, economic forces of globalisation, adequate provision and support in old age --then again the media must make allowances and play its part."
The report goes on: " Currently, much media coverage of politics and politicians is short-term, selective and specific in the interests or issues it highlights.
"For many people their only connection to politics, in the form of Parliament or politicians, is through the lens of the media, and they are often only made aware of politicians through coverage of personal indiscretions, idiosyncrasies or 'sleaze'.
"We should perhaps, not be surprised if the public then believe that politicians as a social species are dishonest, self-interested or irrelevant.
"For many people 'politics' is seen as an obstacle to good government rather than the means by which it is achieved."
The authors say that rarely do the public get the chance to see MPs working together.
But they admit that even in terms of media coverage, politicians and political institutions, bear a responsibility for what is broadcast or printed, for instance when ministers make statements on new policies in the press before Parliament.
"Nonetheless, there is a widespread sense - shared by some within the media - that the way politics is covered in newspapers, on radio and on TV is damaging to how people perceive the political system and to the belief that they have a central part to play in it."
The report admits this is tricky territory especially for politicians.
"Criticism of the media or assertion of the responsibilities of the fourth estate in reinforcing our system of representative democracy and values is so often swiftly and savagely dismissed as a desire to gag or regulate for self-serving political ends."