Poli Sci 2300 - Media

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Published on 27 Sep 2011
School
Dalhousie University
Department
Political Science
Course
POLI 2300Y
Professor
Page:
of 2
Monday, January 17, 2011
What does do the media do? Role of media in political spheres
Media seen as the “4th Estate” – Other three – Church, Nobility (land owning classes),
ordinary people of society
Historically can be traced to print media – 15th century
Theories of the Media:
1. Liberal interpretation of the media – Comes from classical rule of the media
being an institution acting as a check on the government. A function of a liberal
democratic system. Based on the notion of individualism, having institutions in
place acting to balance (check) out the government
2. Marxist interpretation of the media – Propaganda, media run by big business.
Nothing more than an instrument of big business, a reflection of the interests of
the dominant groups of society. Ties into the fact that media manufactures
consent through skewing information, propaganda, etc. – helps sway popular
opinion. Cynical.
3. Social responsibility model of the media – Basically states the media is nothing
more than an instrument that advances the interests of big business. Basically
advocating a system of media that tries to hold government accountable. Similar
to corporate responsibility – advances the interests of the ordinary people as
opposed to big business. Offers an alternative viewpoint with a wide range of
perspective.
Why do we need the media? What role does it play?
Dissemination of information to and from the government – government provides
us with information – media becomes a link between the government and the
people. Also pass along viewpoints through the media to the government (ex.
Writing to the editor of a newspaper)
Serves as a watchdog on the government – Government has a means of being
checked – government needs to be weary of how their activities are going to be
reported/portrayed. Exposes activities not in the best interest of the people.
Agenda setting – Many governments have fallen due to what media has reported.
Media chooses the important issues of the day and reports them to the public.
Political education and civic education – Provides information to the general
public about events locally and around the world that we wouldn’t know
otherwise. Political education – Remind us of what politicians actually say and
inform us of how they’ve accomplished their campaign promises
Deliberative function – A perspective of arguments being advances on different
political issues. Acknowledge the other argument and then back your argument
with other facts/figures. Discussing issues from particular perspectives – offers a
forum to agree or disagree with people based on information being put on the air
Instrument of propaganda – Provides common misconceptions – doesn’t give an
accurate portrayal (ex. Africa)
Mobilizing function – Stimulates public debate
Transparency functions – Transparency and accountability for the governments of
newly democratizing countries – governments in NICs/LDCs can’t do anything
they want
Criticisms of the Media
Media does not always get the story right – Feeds into cynicism. Misinterprets
reports.
Censorship – Canada ranked last on media accessibility.
Laws of sedition – Some information is based on national security. Anyone who
reports is threatening national security – report at your own risk. Discourages
media from reporting certain issues.
Bias
Manufacturing consent – Coined by Noam Chomsky. Media reporting on a
particular issue of which they may not have all the facts correct – Criticism of
making people think alike.
Sensationalism – Over sensationalize news – ‘infotainment’ – encourages fear-
mongering, inaccurate perceptions, etc.
Government control of the media – Especially in developing countries. Used as a
tool of political propaganda. Ex. Zimbabwe – BBC was banned from operating
because they provided an alternative source of information. Government can also
use extra-judicial means to control media coverage. Extra-judicial – Risk of
losing life, career, use of militia to intimidate, etc.
Inadequate funds – Especially in developing countries – providing information
that has nothing to do with politics but rather, entertainment.
How to deal with these challenges and problems?

Document Summary

Media seen as the 4th estate other three church, nobility (land owning classes), ordinary people of society. Historically can be traced to print media 15th century. Theories of the media: liberal interpretation of the media comes from classical rule of the media being an institution acting as a check on the government. Based on the notion of individualism, having institutions in place acting to balance (check) out the government: marxist interpretation of the media propaganda, media run by big business. Nothing more than an instrument of big business, a reflection of the interests of the dominant groups of society. Ties into the fact that media manufactures consent through skewing information, propaganda, etc. Cynical: social responsibility model of the media basically states the media is nothing more than an instrument that advances the interests of big business. Basically advocating a system of media that tries to hold government accountable.