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Comparative Journalism

March 27th 2012

Four Theories of the Press Contexts

1.) The Cold War Anti-Soviet theories Interest in current state of journalism in many developing countries 2.) Media Monopolies Anti-trust laws to break media monopolies in the film industry Government commissions in both the UK and US looking at problems in the press.

Four Theories of the Press

Pure libertarianism has failed But this doesnt mean we need strong government control (Soviet or authoritarian) Instead we need some lighter form of control (and/or self-regulation)

Social Responsibility Theory

Written by Theodore Peterson Graduate of University of Illinois (where his supervisor was Siebert!) Peterson was also involved in the Commission on Freedom of the Press

Commissions on Press Regulation

Commission on Freedom of the Press (United States) Royal Commission (United Kingdom) At the time of the book (1956) both of these commissions had been making their recommendations.

Six Points of Libertarian Theory (According to Peterson)

1.) Servicing the political system by providing information, discussion & debate on political affairs. 2.) Enlightening the public to make it capable of selfgovernment. 3.) Protecting peoples rights by acting as a watchdog on the government. 4.) Servicing the economy through advertising 5.) Providing Entertainment 6.) Maintaining self-sufficiency to be free from the pressure of special interests

Failures of the Free Press

Newspaper owners have used newspapers to spread their own political and economic opinions. The press has been subservient to big business and at times has left advertisers influence content. The press has resisted social change. The press has given more attention to the superficial and sensational than to the significant. The press has endangered public morals The press has invaded the personal privacy of individuals without justifiable reasons. The press is controlled by the business class and is difficult to access for people from within other classes.

Social Responsibility Theory

Peterson argues that Social Responsibility theory agrees with the aforementioned six principles of Libertarian theory but thinks that news providers have failed to adequately achieve each point. The main reason is that big media businesses are more interested in making money! Some newspaper companies now owned several newspapers.

Social Responsibility Theory Recommendations

The press needs to improve its political and public role (1-3) Advertising (4) should not be more important than other points Entertainment (5) should be good entertainment Self-financing (6) is an aim but there are some occasions where the government might have to subsidise newspapers.

Five Recommendations of Commission on Freedom of the Press

1.) The press must be accurate It should fully distinguish fact from opinion This it had been doing for most the 20th century. But (according to Peterson) the press should not just balance opinions but also evaluate information given by sources. It should try to give a full perspective of a situation and evaluate their truthfulness.

Five Recommendations of Commission on Freedom of the Press

2.) It should be a forum for a range of political opinions It should include a range of opinions (not just ones the owner likes) It should keep sight of opinions from minorities and local communities.

Presumably the range of political opinions does not include communism.

3.) It should accurately portray social groups The book cites negroes and Chinese (at a time in which black people cannot vote in the US) 4.) It should present and clarify the goals of society. 5.) It should give full access to important information.

The United States and Neo-Liberalism

The United States is already a developed country. It is against other countries having trade barriers (because no foreign trade barriers is good for American exporters.) Many developing countries want trade barriers to help them develop. The United States government telling other countries to stop trade barriers is also a form of government intervention. There is actually still a lot of government intervention in some US industries (particularly agriculture).

Keynes - Neoliberalism

Economic Liberalism and Social Conservativism

In popular political movements such as the Tea Party there is a strong relation between economic liberalism and strict Christianity. American Christians often criticise social liberalism. Christians may be anti-gay; anti-abortion; intolerant of left-wing social xxx; hostile to other religions (particularly Islam)

Criticism of the effectiveness of the press as a watchdog Balanced reporting actually excludes too many views Economic liberalism places restrictions on many people (exploitation) Increasingly in places (particularly the US) there are conflicts between economic liberalism and social liberalism.

Why Connection Between Economic Liberalism and Social Conservativism?

Protestantism emphasises work and making money as good xxx The state has become associated with antiChristian beliefs such as socialism or communism Christianity can explain the economic inequalities as fate or a test for believers to overcome. Churches have become networking places for politicians and businessmen.

Why Connection Between Economic Liberalism and Social Conservativism?

Both economic liberalism and Christianity can attack xxx xxx.


Fox News
Neoliberal Social Conservative Anti-Islam

On Fox News Obama left-wing liberal (Obamas economic policies are centre-right) Popular with viewers increase in market share. In response some other newspapers have been changing their xxx to incorporate neo-liberal and Christian views.

Is Christianity Becoming Mainstream?

To secular xxx Instead of interviewing politicians there are an increasing number of leaders of churches and religious organisations on Fox News. Should the news include religious leaders in their discussion of news topics?

Economic Liberalism, Social Conservativism and Aggressive Foreign Policy

Economic liberalism combined with overseas policy of war (Iran and Afghanistan) (Iran 2012?)

Ron Paul
Fox News very ciritical of Obama But also accused of being biased against some in the Republic Party that do not xxx like Ron Paul PIC

Enron Scandal
In November 2001 the American company Enron, went bankrupt. The share price had very quickly dropped from $90 in June 2000 to only $1. The company had hidden billions of dollars of debt through many illegal accountancy practices. Many American investors and pension funds lost millions of dollars. Of course people criticised the Enron bosses but some people were also critical of the American press for failing to find out about this corruption.

Murdoch Scandal
Politicians are afraid to criticise Murdoch because he tries to use his newspapers to influence voters. Perhaps he also knows some personal secrets about politicians. He bribing the police to make sure they were not reporting xxx.

How can the press assist in solving social and political problems?
How do we decide what are a societys political and social problems? Many problems may be extremely complicated. Many problems may need scientific or economic knowledge that most journalists do not know. Many problems may be global rather than national problems.

How do we decide what opinions are important?

Whose opinions count?
Political Leaders Leaders from other political parties (including which parties?) Experts (professors; researchers) Religious Leaders Business Leaders Ordinary People

Political Economy
Many from political economy approaches to media research have criticised the dependence of the United States media on advertising. They claim that

The first filter, ownership, notes that most major media outlets are owned by large corporations. The second, funding, notes that the outlets derive the majority of their funding from advertising, not readers. Thus, since they are profit-oriented businesses selling a product readers and audiences to other businesses (advertisers), the model would expect them to publish news which would reflect the desires and values of those businesses. In addition, the news media are dependent on government institutions and major businesses with strong biases as sources (the third filter) for much of their information. Flak, the fourth filter, refers to the various pressure groups which go after the media for supposed bias and so on when they go out of line. Norms, the fifth filter, refer to the common conceptions shared by those in the profession of journalism.[27]

In Libertarian Theory How does the Press remain Independent of Government Influence?
Advertising! Although you have to pay for most newspapers newspapers still get most of their money from advertising. If you were a newspaper editor would you print news that would upset companies advertising in your newspaper? Perhaps they would cancel their advertising. American researchers like Noam Chomsky also claim that many companies have political preferences (e.g. pro-Israel, anti-Communist). Chomsky claims that advertisers will complain if newspapers publish news against their values.

Influence of Advertisers?
Glenn Beck was a popular and contoversial journalist on Fox News He would often be extremely rude about President Obama. But when he said rude things about Jewish people he was fired from his job. Many people think this was because of pressure from Jewish businessmen amongst Fox News advertisers.

US restrictions on libertarianism
P.58 clear and present d P.59 not used to silence communist press but some communist leaders Useful on Supreme Court

Theory of objective reporting p.61 Fox News (why ask Christians for opinion) Will never ask Communists