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Lecture 10

Lecture Ten: Mass Media and Politics

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David Young

Work within Mass Media: Structure, Agency and Media Professionals October 10, 2013 – October 17, 2013 Structural Constraints • The institution of the economy and the institution of politics have placed structural constraints on the institution of mass media • There are economic forces and political forces that are having an impact on the organizations that are inside the institution of mass media • Economic Constraints o The Capitalist Economy is a source of economic constraints on media organizations  There is a need for these companies (private media organizations) to be profitable  Three specific implications that we have addressed: 1. Deepening ownership concentration • Large media organizations have gobbled up smaller media organizations so that they can expand their operations – so that they are more profitable 2. The pursuit of profit has also led to cheaper content • Private media organizations want to pay as little as possible for their content or programming • There has been a push to provide cheaper content especially as they face growing competition • The size of their audiences is dwindling, because of this – they cannot afford to pay premium amounts for their programming 3. Advertising Revenues • Private Media organizations need to attract advertising revenue to make money • Political Constraints o The Capitalist State is a source of political constraints on media organizations  Impacts public and private media organizations  Procedures that need to be followed: • Legislation – provides the basis for regulatory agencies to establish regulations • These regulations (based on legislation) have implications in a number of ways – for ownership, content provided  Private media organizations (Capitalists) who have pushed to be free of these constraints  On the other hand, less powerful groups, workers and their allies have pushed for the existence for these contraints Independent Agency • “Men make their own history, but they do not make it just as they please; they do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves, but under circumstances directly encountered, given, and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all the dead th generations weighs like a nightmare on the brain of the living” – Karl Marx, The 18 Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte o “There are circumstances directly encountered, given, and transmitted from the past” – those circumstances are the context of which people can act o People do not get to choose the circumstances, they take what they are given o Marx is suggesting that the choices made by Capitalists and workers are very much shaped by the historical development of Capitalist society • Choices in Response to Political Constraints o Dealing with the agency of media professionals in media organizations – could be publicly owned, but a lot of them are privately owned o Five strategies that media professionals can use in response to government regulations 1. Compliance  Easiest strategy for them because they just have to obey the government regulations  Avoid conflict with government officials and regulators 2. Pre-emption  Media professionals may try to prevent the emergence of regulations  Try to do this by convincing government officials that self-regulation is a better way to do things 3. Interpretation  The existing regulations can often be read in different w
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