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Four Theories of the Press The theories are: Authoritarian Soviet-Communist Libertarian Social Responsibility These are actually

two general theories and a variation from each. Two basic things to understand: 1. Mass media always takes on the form and coloration of the social and political structures within which the media operate. 2. We understand governments -- and the people who live within those governments -- by understanding media. 2. 1. Authoritarian Authoritarian doctrine has determined the mass communication pattern for more people over a longer period of time than any other theory. What Fred S. Siebert said: For almost two hundred years after the spread of printing in the western world, the authoritarian theory furnished the exclusive basis for determining the function and relationship of the popular press to contemporary society. ... in fact practically all western Europe... utilized the basic principles of authoritarianism as the theoretical foundation for their systems of press control. Page 9, Four Theories of the Press Who owns the media in an authoritarian system? Ownership of printing remains mostly in private hands, but broadcasting and cinema usually remain in the hands of government. The form of control the government exercises over media in authoritarian countries is the same as the control it has over the people who live there. The concepts are inseparable. That is, one follows the other. History provides us with many examples. Two stand out: Germany under Hitler and Italy under Mussolini. Along with everything else he did, Hitler introduced propaganda.

What is that? It's shading the news and information to fit a preconceived conclusion on what the information should mean and on how people should interpret it. From Mein Kampf (my struggle): "All propaganda should be popular and should adapt its intellectual level to the receptive ability of the least intellectual of those whom it is desired to address." This was one of the ways Hitler was able to control the people. See page 16, Four Theories of the Press. Examples of where authoritarian forms of government and, therefore, of media are practiced around the world now: Libya, Syria, Zimbabwe, Mynamar, Belarus and Uzbekistan Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, quashed the pro-democracy movement and detained its leader, Aung San Suu Ky. Formerly authoritarian control existed in the Philippines under Ferdinand Marcos and in South Korea, Nicaragua, Iraq and South Africa under apartheid. Actually, any place that has or had an authoritarian government. The New Concern: Islamic Rule This is to be seen in Iran (where they ousted the Shah and established an Islamic state) under Ayatollah Khomeini. Another good example was Afghanistan when the Taliban was in control. The best example of the control exercised by the Taliban was the way they controlled every aspect of the lives of women. Another case in point: Salman Rushdie. A fatwa was issued against Rushdie after the publication of his novel, The Satanic Verses. The then leader of the Islamic Republic in Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini, believed the book to be blasphemous. The Satanic Verses is still banned in many Muslim countries. When Rushdie appeared at the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University in 1991 on the 200th anniversary of the Bill of Rights, he said: "Freedom of speech is life itself." Rushdie was at the University of Houston and at the Alley Theatre on September 10, 2001. He

was met by protesters at the Alley that night. 2. The Soviet-Communist Theory It is related to the authoritarian theory. The main difference is that under the Soviet-Communist system, the state owns or in some way controls all forms of mass media directly. Therefore, the authority for all mass communications is in the hands of a small group of party leaders. At least that's the way it had been from 1918 until recently. How it worked/works: 1. They play down everything bad under communism while 2. And play up everything bad in democratic countries. For example, the Soviet media didnt emphasize accidents like train wrecks and boat sinkings or natural disasters. Why? Because it made the government look bad. At the same time the media in the Soviet Union played up the bad news in democratic countries - especially the United States. That made democracies look like they weren't working. A great example of this theory is the disdain communists tend to have for democracy. Here's a good example from Fidel Castro. In a speech in 1991, Castro referred to democracy as "complete garbage." The Great Change in Russia The great change came after Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in 1985 and started on a plan that was to eventually cause the Soviet Union to be no more. Two concepts introduced by Gorbachev: Perestroika: restructuring of society and the economy Glasnost: openness Changes then occurred at a dizzying pace: November 9, 1989 -- the Berlin Wall fell. December 25, 1991 -- Gorbachev resigned, meaning the end to the Soviet Union. While Gorbachev was still in power, he changed the way the state broadcast monopoly worked and gave greater authority to local governments and professionals. Also while Gorbachev was still in power, the Soviets admitted:

That the effects of the Chernobyl accident in 1986 were much worst than had been admitted at the time. And, That the Soviets (not the Germans) were responsible for the 1940 massacre of 15,000 Polish Army officers in 1940 (during World War II). Immediately we must add that Russia and most of the former Soviet republics have had a difficult time making it in the transition from communism to democracy. And some of the reforms have not lasted. In Russia, crime is rampant. A strong mob element that had existed under communism that simply took over areas of the economy. And the government has exercised more and more control over the media. Soviet/Communism Today The countries that follow the communist line are dwindling. Still, many are left. Each exists in its on unique situation. Among the examples are: North Korea, China, Cuba and Vietnam 3. The Libertarian Theory Almost always a theory, mostly not acted upon except in the absence of government (which also is anarchy). An example of the absence of government: Lebanon during the war. Also, nations such as Sierra Leone and Sudan where tribal warfare has raged. In Lebanon, hostages were taken and there was no way to reclaim them. Remember Terry Anderson? The best early expression of libertarian ideals is Areopagitica, an essay published by John Milton in 1644. In the essay, which was intended for Parliament, Milton argued for intellectual freedom without government control. He said: "... though all the winds of doctrine were let loose to play upon the earth, so truth be in the field. ... Let her (truth) and falsehood grapple; who ever knew truth put to the worse, in a free and open encounter?" In America, the best example historically of libertarian thought was Thomas Jefferson. In a letter he wrote in 1787, Jefferson said: "The basis of our government being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without

newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter." Jefferson also said: "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty." That quote is on the right side at the entrance to the National Archives Building in Washington. The best spokesman for Libertarian thought was John Stuart Mill, an Englishman who lived from 1806 to 1873. In 1859, he wrote On Liberty: "When we consider either the history of opinion or the ordinary conduct of human life, to what is it to be ascribed that the one and the other are no worse than they are? Not certainly to the inherent force of the human understanding, for on any matter not self-evident there are ninetynine persons totally incapable of judging of it for one who is capable; and the capacity of the hundredth person is only comparative, for the majority of the eminent men of every past generation held many opinions now known to be erroneous, and did or approved numerous things which no one will now justify. Why is it, then, that there is on the whole a preponderance among mankind of rational opinions and rational conduct? If there really is this preponderance which there must be unless human affairs are, and have always been, in an almost desperate state - it is owing to a quality of the human mind, the source of everything respectable in man either as an intellectual or as a moral being, namely, that his errors are corrigible." To put this into perspective: we've never had a complete libertarian system existing for any length of time in any country except in times of war or civil unrest. We do have examples of libertarian thought in The Netherlands, in some of the Scandinavian countries and to a certain extent in a few other countries. We do have a Libertarian Party here in the United States. This is not the same as the Libertarian Theory of the Press, although similarities do exist. Nonetheless, libertarian thought could be said to be the underpinning of the system of free press we have in America. 4. What we practice in America: Social-Responsibility. How it works: Social Responsibility provides for private ownership of mass media in exchange for responsible use of that media.

Social Responsibility is tied to a form of government that is based an the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. In theory we have a free market place of ideas that coincides with capitalism and the freeenterprise system. We couldn't have free-enterprise without that. And, we couldn't have a free press without the free enterprise system to back it up. Why? Controls in one area would mean controls in other areas too. In summary: We give the media in America enormous power. At the same time, we hold the media to the highest standard of responsibility, or of social responsibility. Ideas in Conflict But, ideas by their nature are in conflict. They are resolved in all sorts of ways. And, what we are examining is the way conflicts are resolved in a democracy. Democracy is messy. Orderliness comes from control.