Theories of the Press

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Name: Sherisse Mohammed
Subject: Recurrent Issues in Communication Arts
Tutor: Peter Richards

Topic: Of the four (4) theories of the press, which one adequately represents the situation in Trinidad &Tobago?

In 1956, three professors of communication; Fred S. Siebert, Theodore Peterson and Wilbur Schramm, published their Four Theories of the Press which went a long way in establishing a classification in the minds of students and educators of journalism. The book was originally published to help give historical, philosophical and international perspective of the press. The four theories were namely the authoritarian theory, the libertarian theory, social responsibility theory and finally, the soviet totalitarian theory.

Before I distinguish which of the four press theories I think greatly relates to Trinidad and Tobago, I’ll firstly give some brief introductions to each one of the four theories. Firstly, the authoritarian theory. It was developed in the 16th and 17th century in England. Of the four theories, the authoritarian theory has proven to be the most pervasive. This press concept has formed and now forms, the basis for many media systems of the world. The mass media, under authoritarianism, have only as much freedom as the national leadership at any particular time is willing to permit. The state, being the highest ranked structure in the anarchy pyramid, supersedes the individual and makes it possible for the individual to acquire and develop a stable and harmonious mass communication life, then, supports the state and the government in power so that total society may advance and the state may be viable and attain its objectives. The state directs and rules the citizens who are not considered competent and interested enough to make critical political decisions. The mass media, under authoritarianism, are educators and propagandists by which the power elite exercise social control. Citizens, therefore, owe an obligation...
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