Media And Democracy

Topics: Mass media, Concentration of media ownership, Media democracy Pages: 6 (1967 words) Published: January 19, 2014
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. It is a liberal-democratic approach to media studies that advocates the reformation of the mass media with an emphasis on public service broadcasting and audience participation, through the use of citizen journalism and alternative media channels. A media democracy focuses on using information technologies to both empower individual citizens and promote democratic ideals through the spread of information.[1] Additionally, the media system itself should be democratic in its own construction [2] shying away from private ownership or intense regulation. Media democracy entails that media should be used to promote democracy[3] as well as the conviction that media should be democratic itself;[4] media ownership concentration is not democratic and cannot serve to promote democracy and therefore must be examined critically.[5] 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 The concept of a media democracy follows in response to the deregulation of broadcast markets and the concentration of mass media ownership. In their book Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media, authors Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky outline the propaganda model of media, which states that the private interests in control of media outlets will shape news and information before it is disseminated to the public through the use of five information filters.[6] In this way, the construction of the mass media as a for-profit enterprise behaves in a way that runs counter to the democratic ideals of a free press. 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. A media democracy advocates:

Replacing the current libertarian media model[clarification needed] with one that operates democratically, rather than for profit Strengthening public service broadcasting
Incorporating the use of alternative media into the larger discourse Increasing the role of citizen journalism
Turning a passive audience into active participants
Using the mass media to promote democratic ideals

The competitive structure of the mass media landscape stands in opposition to democratic ideals since the competition of the marketplace effects how stories are framed and transmitted to the public. This can "hamper the ability of the democratic system to solve internal social problems as well as international conflicts in an optimal way."[7] Media democracy, however, is grounded in creating a mass media system that favours a diversity of voices and opinions over ownership or consolidation, in an effort to eliminate bias in coverage. This, in turn, leads to the informed public debate necessary for a democratic state.[8] 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.[9] The concept of "democratizing the media" has no real meaning within the terms of political discourse in Western society....
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