Explain in detail the relationship between mass media and democracy

The impact of the mass media on the quality of democracy | Euro Crisis in the Press

explain in detail the relationship between mass media and democracy

Friends of Canadian Broadcasting offers an annual award, encouraging Canadians to reflect and express themselves through original essays on the link . Media democracy is a democratic approach to media studies that advocates for the reform of mass Please help improve it or discuss these issues on the talk page. Media is also defined as "medium" a way of communicating with others. The relationship of media democracy and the public sphere extends to various . In particular, two models are analysed in order to understand its relationship with society. () explain how the topics selected by the media for their agenda p) helps us to understand the 'function' of mass communication in society.

Historically, some scholars have maintained at one time or another that the media have almost no effect or that the media have a strong, direct effect on audiences, but the vast majority of contemporary scholars believe that the media have some, usually moderate, effects on some audiences in some situations.


Further complicating the relationship between democracy and the media has been the emergence of computer-based interactive media, including the Internetand other new technologies, such as facsimile machines.

New media forms provide ordinary people with unparalleled opportunities to distribute information quickly and inexpensively to large numbers of their fellow citizens. The democratic potential of such new media is sometimes described as being a way to compensate for the ownership of traditional media forms e.

However, the proliferation of Internet sources has meant that the information provided on the Internet often is not accurate or, at the very least, Internet information has not been properly checked for accuracy. Additionally, while some political observers have discussed the potential of Internet voting and campaign material distribution to rejuvenate interest in voting and in political activism, others have argued that the tendency of Internet websites to engage in shallow political humor and parody is more likely to foster cynicism than to combat it.

Of course, given the rapid development of the Internet and its steady increase in availability and ease of use, the political implications of emerging electronic media are far from certain, whether in historically democratic societies or in authoritarian nations where governments are struggling, usually with uneven success, to restrain the free flow of information. Moral Obligations of Media Professionals The obligations or duties of media professionals as those duties relate to life in a democracy have been far from clear as new media technologies have become available.

By the eighteenth century, liberal democratic theory as developed in Europe and North America suggested that opinion and deception were inevitably going to be part of a free society, but such theories also maintained that truth would emerge in the end after vigorous debates about public policy issues.

In the latter half of the nineteenth century, however, slipshod journalistic practices and highly partisan editors and publishers including Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst led many observers to become increasingly uncomfortable with media that frequently published exaggerated stories that came complete with an obvious political slant.

In response to such excesses, alternative theories of the relationship between democracy and the media were considered.

Specifically, what eventually was called the social responsibility theory of the media emerged by the mid-twentieth century in the United Statesmost noticeably in the report of the Hutchins Commission on Freedom of the Press. While still embracing the notion of a free press, social responsibility theory suggested that the special freedoms that were given to media in democratic societies meant that media had a responsibility to report accurately and objectively the multiple perspectives on matters of public relevance.

Democracy and the Media | senshido.info

This argument was used with particularly great force against radio and television broadcasters who were allowed to use a public resource, broadcast frequencies, for their individual gain.

Because media have an obligation to inform the public about politically relevant information, for example, some members of the Hutchins Commission even speculated that the failure of media to meet their public obligations might require further governmental regulation to see that this obligation was met. While government surveillance and regulation of media content along the lines discussed by the Hutchins Commission never took place, prevailing sentiment among media professionals who reported political news favored some version of the social responsibility theory for the latter half of the twentieth century.

Even as social responsibility theory was gaining acceptance among journalists, modern political campaigns increasingly were required to rely heavily on media for contact with prospective voters in nations such as France, Great Britainand the United States. Even the ancient practice of political speech making, as Kathleen Hall Jamieson observes in her book Eloquence in an Electronic Agebecame relatively more intimate, conversational, and television-friendly by the late twentieth century. In addition to "paid media," or media messages that were distributed in the form of paid advertisements, for example, political candidates sought to capitalize on the advantages of "free media" exposure by soliciting favorable media attention in one way or another, even by staging media events, or "pseudo-events," whose only purpose was to attract the attention of print and electronic journalists.

While media effects research in the s and s often indicated that the influence of media on prospective voters was minimal, more recent research suggests that media coverage of political campaigns may have some worrisome and, ultimately, undemocratic effects. In presidential primaries, the tendency of media professionals to give the vast majority of their attention to the best-known candidates and to put great importance on performance in a few early primaries or caucuses means that the choices of those professionals may have an enormous effect on the outcome of the campaign.

Media democracy

Furthermore, even when media outlets talk about issues, those issues may concern campaign issues e. Another complaint is that some electronic media, most notably television, address a diverse mass audience that discourages candidates from taking any meaningful or controversial positions for fear of alienating some voters. As a result of these observations, some scholars conclude that the media have not met their obligations to the public by providing relevant information about the public policies that are preferred by different candidates.

explain in detail the relationship between mass media and democracy

In contrast, defenders of media campaign coverage point out that people learn about issues and policy preferences from media outlets. If voters do learn relatively little about issues, it may be because candidates themselves take few substantive policy positions during campaigns. Perhaps the most optimistic way to interpret the current situation is described by Roderick P. Hart in his book Seducing America According to Hart, one way to interpret the relationship between democracy and the media is that television, at least, is an imperfect and frequently shallow source of political information, but it teaches something about politics to even the most apathetic citizen and encourages the best citizens to learn more about politics and even to become politically active.

The problem for Hart, unfortunately, is that television, the primary source of political information for most people, is a passive medium designed for personal entertainment, rather than encouraging political action and a sense of civic responsibility. Only the exceptional individual is inspired by television to take an active and personal interest in politics, let alone in political campaigns.

One clear example of the controversial and complex relationship between democracy and the media is found in research on campaign debates.

explain in detail the relationship between mass media and democracy

Beginning with the famous Kennedy-Nixon U. Presidential candidates have no choice but to participate in such debates if they wish to be perceived as being capable and qualified, and candidates in state and even local political campaigns are likely to be invited to participate in one or more debates.

Certainly, the available evidence suggests that, whatever their previous levels of information, voters acquire more knowledge about political candidates after watching a debate, in which voters are able to compare the policy platforms and personal attributes of the major-party candidates. When compared to traditional campaign speeches, debates may be more informative and rightly deserve the large amount of media attention that they get.

However, media coverage of and participation in campaign debates has been repeatedly criticized. First, media are sometimes said to influence public perceptions of those debates by focusing on competitive concerns, namely who "won" or "lost" a given debate. The result is that public policy concerns addressed in those debates are given relatively little attention.

Second, as media professionals sometimes ask questions of the candidates or serve as moderators during the debates, their participation in the debates is subject to great scrutiny. For example, one study published by Frances R. Matera and Michael B. Salwen found that journalists who asked lengthy questions of candidates during presidential debates, especially questions with multiple parts, might contribute to the tendency of candidates to give long-winded answers that ignore part or all of the original question.

As long as media representatives continue to participate in such debates, there will be a need to assess their contributions to campaign debates, along with the performances of the candidates themselves.

The increasing importance of media in political campaigns has also led to a rise in the use of professional political consultants by candidates. While such consultants could be found by the mid-nineteenth century in the United States, only since the s have consultants dealing with scientific polling and various media outlets become a fixture in all but the most local of political campaigns.

Candidates and their professional advisers became increasingly sophisticated in their targeting of certain groups of voters, and, by the s, President Bill Clinton would be described as the most poll-driven and public-opinion-sensitive politician in the nation's history. Consultants are depicted as constantly attempting to "spin" the perceptions of U.

However, defenders of consulting argue that voter cynicism is most directly attributable to disenchantment with political parties and with widely reported political scandals. Furthermore, consultants reject any strategy or approach that would alienate key groups of voters. In the end, consultants design and create campaign messages not to anger voters but because they believe those messages have a good chance of working.

The Mass Media and Democracy

Finally, if political consultants are guilty of unethically manipulating media professionals and the public, then it is the job of media professionals and the public to uncover and point out those attempts at manipulation. Social-Scientific Theories of the Media Several different social-scientific theories of media effects have important implications for the creation and modification of public opinion in democratic societies.

explain in detail the relationship between mass media and democracy

Some of the most successful and well-known contemporary media theories are related to agenda setting, the knowledge gap, news diffusion and information flow, and the spiral of silence. McCombs and Donald L.

explain in detail the relationship between mass media and democracy

Shawmedia may not be able to tell people what to think, but they are able to tell audiences what to think about. In other words, media may set the public agenda by saying which concerns are important and which are not. Hundreds of studies of the agenda-setting effect suggest that media exposure encourages individuals to agree more closely on what public issues are most important at any given time. This finding is important because it suggests that media gatekeepers e.

Also, most people are only able to remember and describe a few issues at a time, so issues to which the media pay attention are quite likely to displace or crowd out other potentially worthy issues that receive less media attention. Other organizations and people outside the media, of course, also work to set the agenda in a democratic society.


Media act as only one force among many in determining what issues get attention and what issues are ignored. Consistent with contemporary theories of indirect media effects, the relative importance of the agenda-setting effect depends on the situation in which the effect is measured.

For example, a strong agenda-setting effect is more likely when the relevant audience believes that the source of the media message is highly credible, since a highly credible source is more likely to be persuasive. Furthermore, heavy media exposure may result in a stronger agenda-setting effect than when media use is fairly light. The Knowledge Gap Hypothesis Democratic theory requires that citizens be informed about political candidates and public policy debates in order to make reasoned decisions, and from this perspective, the media in a democratic society are obligated to provide appropriate information to the public.

However, some researchers have maintained that providing a larger quantity of information does not necessarily reduce the "gap" in the amount of knowledge that is possessed by some groups when compared to others. Early versions of this thesis, called the knowledge gap hypothesis, maintained that higher socioeconomic status groups would acquire knowledge at a faster rate than lower socioeconomic status groups.

Its impact may be potentially profound, but the time lag between cause and effect is difficult to communicate in news terms. And yet terrorism, which combines politics with drama and violence, 'fits' the requirements of our news culture perfectly.

explain in detail the relationship between mass media and democracy

The effect "is not merely to mislead its readers about the state of the world but to distort the whole political process" The Basics " by Julian McDougall 15 It is not only individual politicians who have their careers unfairly damaged, it can be entire political entities. It seems that British journalists consider the truth to be worthwhile only to the extent that people buy it. The more people who buy it, the more factual it becomes.

In the wake of the media frenzy against John Prescott, earlyDavid Aaronovitch wrote about the role of the media in precipitating crises where there should have been none, and rightly labels it "story inflation", as was also the case with the media's attack on the Home Secretary, Mr Clarke: I'll give an example from the Clarke imbroglio. Several newspapers have featured the call for Mr Clarke to resign, from a woman who was raped by a man who had been released from prison after serving a previous sentence - but who had not been considered for deportation.

The details of the case were shocking, but somehow the fact that Mr Clarke was not Home Secretary at the time either of man's release, nor of the subsequent rape, passed the papers by. Readers were left with the clear impression that all this had happened on Charlie's watch.

He will look too ridiculous to carry on. So let's go on about it. I thought it was wrong and hypocritical then and I think so now. It's the way David Mellor - a good minister if an occasionally unlovely man - was forced from office a decade ago.

The press enjoys more freedom to indulge in harder tactics, because one function of the press in a democracy is to expose things that need to be exposed for the public interest.

But now news outlets are largely commercial, 'public interest' has been replaced by interest in profits. And political scandals sell, so, they are churned out without regard for their underlying truth.

A Lack of Meaningful Coverage Most mass media outlets have ceased to cover political current events fairly, accurately, adequately or in some cases, at all.