Compare and Contrast the Social Responsibility Theory with the Athoritarian Theory of the Press

Topics: Sociology, Mass media, Social responsibility Pages: 5 (1611 words) Published: November 30, 2012
COMPARE AND CONTRAST THE AUTHORITARIAN THEORY WITH THE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY THEORY OF THE PRESS. The press also known as the fourth estate plays a very critical role in educating, informing, entertaining and bridging the gap between the mass community and the executive, judicial and legislative. Hence what is more essential is its stance on policy and choice of theory, which is a system of law like propositions and set of ideas that guide action or predict a consequence. The purpose of this research is to compare, that is to put side by side and to contrast, and that is state the difference between the Authoritarian theory with the social responsibility theory of the press. There is not much of a hint of comparison between the Authoritarian theory and the social responsibility theory, in that the heart beat of the authoritarian theory is designed to protect the status quo and existing social order mainly biased towards the ruling elite and those that are in authority. The authoritarian press is under state control and heaps more thrust with the public media while the social responsibility of the press thrives on democracy and principles of public service media which seek to cater for minorities, the so called mass community and ordinary people. Unlike the authoritarian theory of the press, the social responsibility avenue directly gets its funding from the public through licensing and this is true mainly for the electronic media. The authoritarian on one hand regards the role of the press to be that of nation building and propaganda and as a mouth piece for the ones in authority, hence the main source of funding is the ruling elite and the government. Both the authoritarian and social responsibility theory seek to communicate to an audience, communication is absolutely essential to effective leadership and press. The leader must be able to share knowledge and ideas to transmit a sense of urgency and enthusiasm to others. If a leader can’t get a message across clearly and motivate others to act on it, then having a message doesn’t even matter. This is the true hummer and nail of the authoritarian set by political leaders due to the reality that repetition is the rule of long and deep lasting impressions. This is a propagandist mode of communication to drive home a particular message. The state sets up censorship boards and agents to regulate and monitor the operations of the media in the authoritarian theory, issues of censorship and punishment for diversion from rules that are set by political leaders and authorities are central in this theory. It thrives on censorship and repression of freedom of expression as exemplified by the enactment of the draconian laws such as Public Order and Security Act chapter 11:7 (POSA), the Access To Information and Protection of Privacy Act Chapter 10:27 (AIPPA), The Broadcasting Services Act Chapter 12:06 and the Criminal Law (Codification and reform) Act in the nation of Zimbabwe. Basically there is no diversity on coverage, which is catering for all tastes and interests. The social responsibility theory of the press however is not rigid and allows for freedom of expression and thus catering for all tastes and interests. The socially responsible press takes something complicated and makes it simple to understand to layman, compared to the authoritarian which propagandises all information and feeds the masses with what the ruling elite desires to propagate that is government policy. I would like to believe that the authoritarian believes audiences are passive partakers of information whereas the social responsibility adheres to the reality that people are active consumers and do have a choice of what media to consume. This is seen with the geographical universality of provision and reception, thus encouraging competition in programs and freedom to broadcasters, more over there is room for feedback and diversity; while the authoritarian to a lesser degree diversifies to push government...
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