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Theories of Communication

Theories of Communication

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Published by Abbas Habibi

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Published by: Abbas Habibi on Dec 29, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Relationship between mediatheories and practices
The fight for the restoration of the judiciarywas the single mostimportant issue for Pakistan in my lifetime, perhaps in Pakistan'sentire existence.Pakistan has always had only two pillars of state - the army andthe politicians. In a functioningdemocracy, you have three pillars - the executive, legislative and the judiciary. While wewill not be heading towards the regular mode of democracy anytime soon, it looked like the restoration of the judges fired by theoutgoing dictator will empower them all the way to the third pillar of state.Although the issue of the freedom and restoration of judiciarymay be solved after the emergence of the new elected President,Zardari, we are no where near a totally democratic and fair system of governance, but that’s another story.During this Judiciary crisis of 2008, in the presence of PervaizMusharaf, the Mass Media at large had played a humongous andundeniable role in the feud against injustice and blind law.While the role of Media was too huge to be ignored and varioustheories applied on the whole scenario/situation, two of the mostimportant theories that came to action in my opinion during this press fight are identified below.
Social Responsibility (SR) Theory:
Virulent critics of the Free Press Theory were Wilbur Schramm,Siebert and Theodore Paterson. In their book 
 Four Theories of  Press
, they stated "pure libertarianism is antiquated, outdatedand obsolete." They advocated the need for its replacement bythe Social Responsibility theory. This theory can be said to have been initiated in the United States by the Commission of TheFreedom of Press, 1949. The commission found that the freemarket approach to press freedom had only increased the power of a single class and has not served the interests of the less well-off classes. The emergence of radio, TV and film suggested theneed for some means of accountability. Thus the theoryadvocated some obligation on the part of the media to society. A judicial mix of self regulation and state regulation and high professional standards were imperative.Social Responsibility theory thus became the modern variationin which the duty to one’s conscience was the primary basis of the right of free expression.
Application of Social Responsibility (SR)Theory on the Judicial Case of 2008:
The SR Theory of communication applies to this scenario in my point-of-view as it expresses the freedom of speech and the power of the nation which is exactly what the Mass Media of our country did in the crisis of judiciary. The liberty of the judicial party was strongly supported by the Media because itwas fair and the public also supported this idea whole heartedly.
The Mass Media in this perspective outdid it self by promotingthe voice of the public nation wide and gave their full andenthusiastic hand to the judges in rally. It played the socialresponsibility part to its full potential and not only did it reportthe disabled judges but also helped raise the voices of the nationon this topic as well.
Libertarian Theory:
This movement is based on the right of an individual, andadvocates absence of restraint. The basis of this theory dates back to 17th century England when the printing press made it possible to print several copies of a book or pamphlet at cheaprates. The State was thought of as a major source of interferenceon the rights of an individual and his property. Libertariansregarded taxation as institutional theft. Popular will
(vox populi)
was granted precedence over the power of State.Advocates of this theory were
Lao Tzu
, an early 16th century philosopher,
John Locke
of Great Britain in the17th century,
John Milton
, the epic poet ("
") and
John StuartMill
, an essayist ("
On Liberty
"). Milton in
in 1644,referred to a self righting process if free expression is permitted"let truth and falsehood grapple." In 1789, the French, in their Declaration “Of the Rights of Man”, wrote "
 Every citizen may speak, write and publish freely
." Out of such doctrines came theidea of a "free marketplace of ideas." George Orwell definedlibertarianism as "allowing people to say things you do not wantto hear". Libertarians argued that the press should be seen as the
 Fourth Estate
reflecting public opinion.

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