Media democracy


Media democracy

Media democracy is a set of ideas advocating reforming the mass media, strengthening public service broadcasting, and developing and participating in alternative media and citizen journalism. The stated purpose for doing so is to create a mass media system that informs and empowers all members of society, and enhances democratic values. Media democracy entails that media should be used to promote democracy [1] as well as the conviction that media should be democratic itself [2]; media ownership concentration is not democratic and cannot serve to promote democracy and therefore must be examined critically [3]. The concept, and a social movement promoting it, have grown as a response to the increased corporate domination of mass media and the perceived shrinking of the marketplace of ideas.

The term also refers to a modern social movement evident in countries all over the world which attempts to make mainstream media more accountable to the publics they serve and to create more democratic alternatives

Contents

Key principles

Media democracy advocates that corporate ownership and commercial pressures influence media content, sharply limiting the range of news, opinions, and entertainment citizens receive. Consequently, they call for a more equal distribution of economic, social, cultural, and information capital, which would lead to a more informed citizenry, as well as a more enlightened, representative political discourse

Despite the difficulties in defining the term, the concept broadly encompasses the following notions:

  1. # that the press Media democracy remains an under-defined concept because of deliberate structural pressures that prevent individuals from questioning the connection between the press and democracy.

The ability to comprehend and scrutinize the connection between press and democracy is important because media has the power to tell a society’s stories and thereby influence thinking, beliefs and behaviour [4].

The concept of “democratizing the media” has no real meaning within the terms of political discourse in Western society. In fact, the phrase has a paradoxical or even vaguely subversive ring to it. Citizen participation would be considered an infringement on freedom of the press, a blow struck against the independence of the media that would distort the mission they have undertaken to inform the public without fear or favor... this is because the general public must be reduced to its traditional apathy and obedience, and frightened away from the arena of political debate and action.

A key idea of media democracy is that the concentration of media ownership in recent decades in the hands of a few corporations and conglomerates has led to a narrowing of the range of voices and opinions being expressed in the mass media; to an increase in the commercialization of news and information; to a hollowing out of the news media’s ability to conduct investigative reporting and act as the public watchdog; and to an increase of emphasis on the bottom line, which prioritizes infotainment and celebrity news over informative discourse.

Cultural studies have investigated changes in the increasing tendency of modern mass media in the field of politics to blur and confuse the boundaries between journalism, entertainment, public relations and advertising [5]. A diverse range of information providers is necessary so that viewers, readers and listeners receive a broad spectrum of information from varying sources that is not tightly controlled, biased and filtered [6]. Access to different sources of information prevents deliberate attempts at misinformation and allows the public to make their own judgments and form their own opinions [7]. This is critical as individuals must be in a position to decide and act autonomously for there to be a functioning democracy [8].

While it is vital to be able to scrutinize the choices made by media providers in terms of what information is included and excluded [9], individuals possess distinctive knowledge, habits and interests that affect what media they will view and how they will be affected by the media they are exposed to [10]. The content is only one factor among many others that will shape an individual’s powers of judgment [11].

This concentration has been encouraged by government deregulation and neo-liberal trade policies. For example, the U.S. Telecommunications Act of 1996 discarded most media ownership rules that were previously in place, leading to massive consolidation in the telecommunications industry. Over 4,000 radio stations were bought out, and minority ownership of TV stations dropped to its lowest point since the federal government began tracking such data in 1990.

The past decade has also seen a number of media corporate mergers and takeovers in Canada. For example, in 1990. These changes, among others, caused the Senate Standing Committee on Transport and Communications to launch a study of Canadian news media in March 2003 . Specifically, the Committee discussed their concerns regarding the following trends: the potential of media ownership concentration to limit news diversity and reduce news quality; the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) and Competition Bureau’s ineffectiveness at stopping media ownership concentration; the lack of federal funding for the CBC and the broadcaster’s uncertain mandate and role; diminishing employment standards for journalists (including less job security, less journalistic freedom, and new contractual threats to intellectual property); a lack of Canadian training and research institutes; and difficulties with the federal government’s support for print media and the absence of funding for the internet-based news media.

Media democracy advocates in favour of legislative policies that encourage a stronger commitment to serving the public interest and a commercial framework that facilitates independence

As a response to the shortcomings of the mainstream media, proponents of media democracy often advocate supporting and engaging in independent and alternative media, in both print and electronic forms as well as video documentary. Through citizen journalism and citizen media, individuals can produce and disseminate information and opinions that are marginalized by the mainstream media.The media must be free from persons with vested interests like politicians and the advertisers.

Democracy Now! is an example of a resource for information that is independent of both government funding and corporate advertising. Democracy_Now! provides alternative perspectives and voices not present from media sources of concentrated media ownership and promotes access to diverse sources of news and information in order to enable true democracy [12].

Feminism and Media Democracy

Despite attempts to democratize the media, feminist media theory argues that the media cannot be considered truly inclusive or democratic insofar as they rely on the masculine concepts of impartiality and objectivity. [13] Creating a more inclusive and democratic media would require reconceptualizing how we define the news and its principles.[14] According to some feminist media theorists, news is like fictional genres that impose order and interpretation on its materials by means of narrative. [15] Consequently, the news narrative put forward presents only one angle of a much wider picture. [16]

Feminist media literature frames the news and its central tenants of objectivity and impartiality as a masculine construction that subverts the personal voice, through which femininity is conveyed. [17]To include the voices of women, speaking as women, would challenge the principles of objectivity and impartiality, upon which the media and news is founded. [18] Some feminists media theorists argue that too much "feminisation" in the media is perceived as undermining the objectivity of the news by interjecting too much emotion or subjective content. [19]

It is argued that the distinction between public and private information that underpins how we define valuable or appropriate news content is also a gendered concept. [20] The feminist argument follows that the systematic subversion of private or subjective information excludes women's voices from the popular discourse. [21] Further to this point, feminist media theorists argue there is an assumed sense of equality or equalness implicit in the definition of the public that ignores important differences between genders in terms of their perspectives. [22] So while media democracy in practice as alternative or citizen journalism may allow for greater diversity, these theorists argue that women's voices are framed within a masculine structure of objectivity and rationalist thinking. [23]

Despite this criticism there is an acceptance among some theorists that the blurring of public and private information with the introduction of some new alternative forms of media production (as well as the increase in opportunities for interaction and user-generated content) may signal a positive shift towards a more democratic and inclusive media democracy. [24] Some forms of media democracy in practice (as citizen or alternative journalism) are challenging journalism's central tenants (objectivity and impartiality) by rejecting the idea that it is possible to tell a narrative without bias and, more to the point, that it's socially or morally preferable. [25] Rhiamyers (talk) 23:59, 24 October 2011 (UTC)

See also

References

  1. ^ Exoo, Calvin F. (2010). The Pen and the Sword: Press, War, and Terror in the 21st Century. California: Sage Publications. pp. 1-4. ISBN 978-1-4129-5360-3. 
  2. ^ Exoo, Calvin F. (2010). The Pen and the Sword: Press, War, and Terror in the 21st Century. California: Sage Publications. pp. 4. ISBN 978-1-4129-5360-3. 
  3. ^ Hazen, Don and Julie Winokur, ed (1997). New York: The New Press. ISBN 1565843800. 
  4. ^ Exoo, Calvin F. (2010). The Pen and the Sword: Press, War, and Terror in the 21st Century. California: Sage Publications. pp. 1-2. ISBN 978-1-4129-5360-3. 
  5. ^ Meyer, Thomas; Hinchman, Lew (2002). Media Democracy: How the Media Colonize Politics. Cambridge: Polity Press. pp. x. ISBN 0745628443. 
  6. ^ Williams, Frederick and John V. Pavlik, ed (1994). The People's Right to Know: Media, Democracy, and the Information Highway. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. pp. 153. ISBN 0805814914. 
  7. ^ Exoo, Calvin F. (2010). The Pen and the Sword: Press, War, and Terror in the 21st Century. California: Sage Publications. pp. 195-196. ISBN 978-1-4129-5360-3. 
  8. ^ Meyer, Thomas; Hinchman, Lew (2002). Media Democracy: How the Media Colonize Politics. Cambridge: Polity Press. pp. 1. ISBN 0745628443. 
  9. ^ Exoo, Calvin F. (2010). The Pen and the Sword: Press, War, and Terror in the 21st Century. California: Sage Publications. pp. 1-3. ISBN 978-1-4129-5360-3. 
  10. ^ Meyer, Thomas; Hinchman, Lew (2002). Media Democracy: How the Media Colonize Politics. Cambridge: Polity Press. pp. ix. ISBN 0745628443. 
  11. ^ Meyer, Thomas; Hinchman, Lew (2002). Media Democracy: How the Media Colonize Politics. Cambridge: Polity Press. pp. ix. ISBN 0745628443. 
  12. ^ Steve J. Sherman, Democracy Now!, retrieved from http://www.democracynow.org/about
  13. ^ Thornham, Sue (2007). Women, Feminism and Media. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. pp. 97. ISBN 978 0 7486 2071 5. 
  14. ^ Thornham, Sue (2007). Women, Feminism and Media. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. pp. 97. ISBN 978 0 7486 2071 5. 
  15. ^ Thornham, Sue (2007). Women, Feminism and Media. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. pp. 90. ISBN 978 0 7486 2071 5. 
  16. ^ Thornham, Sue (2007). Women, Feminism and Media. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. pp. 90-91. ISBN 978 0 7486 2071 5. 
  17. ^ Thornham, Sue (2007). Women, Feminism and Media. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. pp. 91-95. ISBN 978 0 7486 2071 5. 
  18. ^ Thornham, Sue (2007). Women, Feminism and Media. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. pp. 97. ISBN 978 0 7486 2071 5. 
  19. ^ Thornham, Sue (2007). Women, Feminism and Media. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. pp. 110. ISBN 978 0 7486 2071 5. 
  20. ^ Thornham, Sue (2007). Women, Feminism and Media. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. pp. 91-92. ISBN 978 0 7486 2071 5. 
  21. ^ Thornham, Sue (2007). Women, Feminism and Media. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. pp. 92. ISBN 978 0 7486 2071 5. 
  22. ^ Thornham, Sue (2007). Women, Feminism and Media. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. pp. 95. ISBN 978 0 7486 2071 5. 
  23. ^ Thornham, Sue (2007). Women, Feminism and Media. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. pp. 95. ISBN 978 0 7486 2071 5. 
  24. ^ Thornham, Sue (2007). Women, Feminism and Media. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. pp. 109. ISBN 978 0 7486 2071 5. 
  25. ^ Atton, Chris (2008). Pajnik, Mojca and Downing, John D. H.. ed. Alternative Media and Politics of Resistance. Ljubjana: Peace Institute. pp. 43. ISBN 978-961-6455-52-7. 

Further reading

Books

  • Bagdikian, Ben H. (2004). The new media monopoly. Boston: Beacon Press. 
  • Hackett, Robert A. (2001). Building a Movement for Media Democratization. In P. Phillips and Project Censored. Project Censored 2001. New York : Seven Stories.
  • Hackett, Robert A. & Carroll, William K. (2006). Remaking Media: The Struggle to Democratize Public Communication. New York; London: Routledge
  • Hazen, Don and Julie Winokur, (eds). (1997) We the Media: A Citizens’ Guide to Fighting for Media Democracy. New York: The New Press.
  • Lewis, Jeff (2005) Language Wars: The Role of Media and Culture in Global Terror and Political Violence, London: University of Michigan Press/ Pluto Books, 2005.
  • McChesney, Robert Waterman. (2000). Rich media, poor democracy: Communication politics in dubious times. New York: New Press.
  • McChesney, Robert W. and Nichols, John (2002) Our Media, Not theirs: The Democratic Struggle Against Corporate Media. New York : Seven Stories.

External links

Journals / Periodicals

  • Barker, Michael (2007). "Conform or Reform? Social Movements and the Mass Media", Fifth-Estate-Online - International Journal of Radical Mass Media Criticism. [1]
  • Barker, Michael (2008). "The Liberal Foundations of Media Reform? Creating Sustainable Funding Opportunities for Radical Media Reform", Global Media Journal, 1 (2), June 2008. [2]
  • Chester, Jeffrey, & Larson, Gary O. (July 23, 2002). A 12-step program for media democracy. The Nation Online. [3]
  • Hackett, Robert A. (2000) "Taking Back the Media: Notes on the Potential for a Communicative Democracy Movement," Studies in Political Economy: A Socialist Review 63(3) pp. 61–86.
  • Hackett, Robert A. & Carroll, William K. (2004) Critical social movements and media reform. Media Development. 2004/1.
  • Shariatmadari, David (2006). "Is a Million Articles Proof of Authentic Information?" Intermedia (Vol. 34, Iss. 3): p. 17-18.

Other

  • Brennan Center for Justice, NYU School of Law, The Free Expression Policy Project. (2006). Fact sheets on media democracy. [4]
  • Canada. Senate Standing Committee on Transport and Communication. (June, 2006). Final report on Canadian news media. [5] [6]

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