Normative Theories

Expected Values Media is Supposed to Adhere to

Normative Theories   

Mass media are presumed not only to have certain objective effects but also to serve a social purpose So some of the effects of mass media are both intended and socially valued These include ± to inform, express plurality of views & voices, help in the formation of public opinion and facilitate debate

Normative Theories  



Entertainment and other cultural activities can also be seen as approved purposes of the media Sources are those who own or direct the media and work in them Provide channels of communication for government, authorities and individual communicators

Normative Theories   

There are different opinion on what the media ought or ought not be doing and how well they are performing However, there are great expectations from the media Normative theories refer to the rights and responsibility that underlie these expectation of benefit from the media to individuals and society

Normative Theories 
 



Sources of Normative Obligations: In liberal democracies media do not per se have any obligation to fulfill positively valued purpose They are usually not run by government or run on behalf of society The responsibilities are largely the same as any other individual or institution

Normative Theories   

They are expected to do no harm, beyond that media are free to choose or avoid various positive ends At the same time media collectively resent any attempt to prescribe their role in society However, certain unwritten obligations exist and are respected in practice

Normative Theories 

Normative theories cover both internally chosen purposes and the claims from outside about how the media should conduct themselves

Normative Theories   

Some of the sources of normative expectations stem from the historical context that have shaped the role of media institutions such as links with democratic political institutions, source of news and former of public opinion The orientation of journalism to the public life of the national society and international community Expressed in custom and convention, professional claims and aspirations

Normative Theories  

Claim laid on the media by the general public expressed as public opinion or as an audience Media are tied into a nexus of market relation with their customers and clients for example advertisers which has an influence on their conduct

Normative Theories   

Another source of expectation is the state and agents of government Extent of this influence may vary from system to system but it always has some capacity of reward or punishment Media usually see some self-interest in respecting legitimate wishes and interests of the state specially in times of emergency or threat to public order

Normative Theories    

Other sources of influence are more diffused and stems from many interests ± Economic, cultural and social that are effected by media specially in the context of news Powerful individuals and organizations can be hurt by the news or may need it to further their ends So they keep a close eye on the media

Normative Theories 
  

Media and Public Interest: It is apparent there are many pressures on media to deliver certain benefits There is a µpublic interest¶ in how media conducts themselves Media carry out certain important at times essential tasks in contemporary society

Normative Theories  

It is in general interest that media perform these tasks and perform them well It also implies that media should be operating according to the same basic principles governing the rest of society, specially ± justice, fairness, democracy and contemporary notions of desirable social and cultural values

Normative Theories 
   

It is in public interest that media do not cause social problems and extreme offence Media usually follow some goal of their own choosing This goal can be defined in cultural, professional or political terms But most often it is the goal of making a profit as a business These goals may at times converge

Normative Theories 
  

Who and how do we determine what is in µpublic interest¶? There are always diverse and conflicting views on what is good for society Some would argue that it is better for media not pursue any normative goal at all Media should be left free to do what they want within limits of law

Normative Theories  

When media is run on a commercial basis the media¶s view of what constitutes public interest tends to equate it with what interest the audience This shifts the responsibility for norms, ethics and values to society

Normative Theories 
   

The issue of µpublic interest is complex as it is important As in the case of government there are questions of authority and power Media is similarly placed The justification for their freedoms, the wide ranging role in society, politics and culture and their place in regulatory order Is presumed on the public interest they serve

Normative Theories  

 

Power of the media like the power of the government has to be used in legitimate ways which is linked to the notion of responsibility There is transcendental quality attached to the notion of public interest It is different from and superior to particular interests This entails a longer term perspective ± in which claims of future generations and society are included as well as immediate needs

Normative Theories 

Public interest works in an imperfect world which results in inevitable tension, compromise and improvisation according to circumstances

Normative Theories 
 

What constitutes public interest and how its content maybe established? One is majoritarian view such as the popular vote In the case of the media this would equate the public interest with µgiving the public what it wants¶, pleasing the majority of its consumers in the media market

Normative Theories 
 

The other view is µUnitarian¶ or µabsolutist¶ The issue of public interest would be decided by reference to some single value or ideology May lead to a paternalistic system where leaders and /or experts decide about what is good for you

Normative Theories   

Between the paternalistic and the free market model there are alternatives but non offer clear guidance The other main way may involve debate and discussion as a means of democratic decision making on the one hand and on the other judicial/judicious determination of what is not in public interest in a given case Also a number of ways in which media can be made accountable

Normative Theories  

  



Whatever the concept of public interest the mass media everywhere have been subjected to extensive control and regulation by law Both formal and informal means have been used With a view of getting the media to do what society wants and prevent them from doing what it does not want The actual means of control vary a great deal from one national media system to another influenced by the usual political, cultural & economic determinants They vary also from medium to medium And are rarely internally coherent or consistent

Normative Theories 
         

The usual expectations from the media for serving public interest are: Freedom of publication Plurality of ownership Diversity of information, opinion and culture Support for public order & security of the state Extensive (near universal) reach Quality of cultural provision Adequate support for democratic institutions Respect for human rights Avoiding harm & offence to society & individuals Meeting international Obligations

Normative Theories 
 

Early Approaches to Normative theories: Initial interest and concern was for the role of journalism in the political process The term µFourth Estate¶ was coined by Edmund Burke in the lat 18th century England to refer to the power possessed by the press on par with the other three estates Lords, Church and Commons

Normative Theories   



The power of the press came from its ability to give or withhold publicity and from its informative capacity The first key freedom was to report and comment on the deliberations, assemblies and acts of government This was considered the cornerstone of representative democracy and of progress All reformist and revolutionary movements that followed stressed on the freedom of the press and used it practice to further their causes

Normative Theories   

Mainly in the Anglo-American thought freedom of the press was closely linked to individual freedom and with liberal and utilitarian philosophy And found support for press freedom in arguments against censorship and suppression of opinion And later articulated as free market of ideas

Normative Theories   

The historical context of the struggle for media freedom was invariably one of antagonism between some publication and authority first church and later government Press freedom almost came to be defined as freedom from restriction That is how it has been defined in legal terms in the United States in the First Amendment

Normative Theories 
 

Whereas in many other counties it is the right given to its citizens Netherlands, India By the 20th century it was realized that freedom expressed purely in negative terms of rejecting government interference was failing to give voice to the full meaning of freedom of expression specially in relation to access Instead of being a vehicle for advancing freedom and democracy it was becoming increasingly a means of making money

Normative Theories  

Particularly making money and propaganda for the new and powerful capitalist classes, specifically the µpress barons¶ In response to wide spread criticism of the American press for its sensationalism and commercialization as also for its political imbalance and monopoly tendencies

Normative Theories  

This led to a private commission of enquiry the Hutchins Commission (1947) To examine areas and circumstances under which the press of the US is µsucceeding or failing to discover where free expression is not limited, whether by government censorship, pressure from traders or advertisers or unwisdom of its owners or timidity of its management¶

Normative Theories  

The Commission forms an important milestone Initiated by government for the first time the need for government intervention to put right the ills of the press was contemplated in the heartland of capitalism

Normative Theories  



Set and example to other countries in the process of reconstruction in the post World War II scenario Made a theoretical contribution Findings of the report were critical of the frequent failings and for limited access it gave to voices outside the circle of a privileged and powerful minority

Normative Theories 

The report coined the term µsocial responsibility¶ and named the key journalistic standards that the press should try to maintain

Normative Theories 
  

Criteria of Social Responsibility: Provide a full truthful, comprehensive and intelligent account of the days events in the context which gives them meaning It should serve as a forum for the exchange of comment and criticism and be a common carrier of public expression Press should give a representative picture of constituent groups of society and also present and clarify the goals and values of society

Normative Theories 

The Commission criticized the sensationalism and the mixing of news with editorial opinion

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The Commission supported the concept of a diverse, objective, informative, and independent press institution Which would avoid causing offence or encourage crime, violence or disorder Social responsibility was to be attained by self control and not government intervention

Normative Theories 


Siebert et al 1956: ³The social responsibility theory holds that government must not only allow freedom; but must actively promote it«« When necessary, therefore, the government should act to protect the freedom of its citizens´

Normative Theories  

The social responsibility theory sees media ownership as a form of public trust, rather than unlimited private franchise µInseparable from the right of the press to be free has been the right of the people to have a free press¶. But the public interest has advanced beyond that point; it is the right of the public to have and adequate press. And of the two rights, it is the right of the people that takes precedence¶ (William Hocking Member)

Normative Theories   

Another response to the perceived failings of mass newspaper press, its commercialization also its lack of political independence was the development of professional journalism This took several forms in the organization of associations, formation of press councils and drawing up codes of practice and ethics The phenomenon reflects the general process of professionalization

Normative Theories 
     

Principles in Journalistic Codes: Truthfulness of information Clarity of information Defense of public rights Responsibilities in forming public opinion Standards of gathering and presenting information Respecting the integrity of the sources

Normative Theories 
 



Common provisions include: The prohibition of discrimination on the basis of race ethnicity, religion etc Respect for privacy Prohibition of bribes or any other benefits

Normative Theories  

Codes are often little more than a collection of disparate and practical prescription that do not express any single organizing idea about the nature of society or the overall social purpose of institution Many different codes reflect differences in the conventions and traditions of the country concerned and other interests

Normative Theories  

Codes are nearly always national but there has been some movement to recognize the broader significance of news in world affairs UNESCO initiative for a set of µinternational principles of professional ethics in journalism¶ 1993

Normative Theories  

Drew attention to right to information and the need to respect universal values and the diversity of cultures Promotion of human rights, peace, national liberation, social progress and democracy

Normative Theories   

There has been a certain concern about the western bias in the codes evolved and posited as givens However, studies have revealed a broad consensus on standards of truth and objectivity as central values for journalism There is a continuing search for internationally valid standards of journalistic practice

Normative Theories  



There has also been an observation that there is a disjunction between proclaimed adherence to liberal theory of journalism and actual practice in different countries The gap between theory and practice is on two main points One relates to the investigative, critical and advocacy of the journalist, when in practice most journalism operates in close symbiosis with government, political parties and powerful economic interests

Normative Theories 
  

From this one could conclude that journalistic codes are inadequate and incomplete as theory And may be regarded as a particular ideology for a particular purpose Many organizations have their own set of guidelines There are also signs of self regulation to protect the public from possible harm or the industry from possible outside pressure

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Four theories of the Press: Significant contribution to the theory was made by Siebert et. Al, in 1956 in their book Four Theories of the Press They describe the then current alternative theories of the press, concerning the relation between press and society

Normative Theories  

The basic premise of the book being the press always takes on the form coloration of the social and political structures within which it operates It particularly reflects the system of social control

Normative Theories 
   

The four theories posited are: Authoritarian Soviet Libertarian Social Responsibility

Normative Theories  

The authoritarian theory is really a description of two or more centuries of control of the press by various repressive regimes Its fundamental guiding principle as articulated by Samuel Johnson 18th century English writer

Normative Theories  

³Every society has a right to preserve public peace and order, and therefore has a good right to prohibit the propagation of opinion which have a dangerous tendency´ Restraining opinion maybe morally wrong but is politically right

Normative Theories 

This theory holds that the press and other media should always be subordinate to established authority and should do nothing to undermine it. The press should avoid offence to the majority of dominant moral and political values. The authoritarian theory justifies advance censorship and punishment for deviation from externally set guidelines. Unacceptable attack on authority, deviation from official policy, or offences against moral codes should be criminal offences.

Normative Theories 

The theory is easily identified in a dictatorial or repressive society. However, what is often not recognized that under certain circumstances, media are subjected to authoritarian tendencies even in liberal democracies, an apparent example is the Emergency of 1975 in India. However, in India, but what is often overlooked that despite the formation of Prasar Bharati

Normative Theories 


The Soviet Press Theory: The Communist Media Theory is also known as the Soviet Media Theory. After the 1917 revolution the Soviet media was reorganized in line with the new political system. The reorganization was derived from the Marxist understanding of society and the role of the party and the media

Normative Theories 

The premise being that the new government under the Communist Party represented the working class whose interest they are meant to serve. Private ownership of the press or other media are ruled out. The media must serve positive functions in society relating to information, education, motivation and mobilization in pursuance of socialist objectives.

Normative Theories 

The media must project society in accordance with the Marxist-Leninist principles. This perspective is supposed to entail support of progressive movement within the country and abroad.

Normative Theories 

Since the responsibility of promoting socialist ideology rests with the government under the leadership of the Communist party the ultimate control of the media rests with the state and are integrated with other instruments of political life within these limits the media are expected to be self regulatory: act responsibly, evolve and follow norms of professional conduct and respond to peoples needs and aspirations.

Normative Theories 

The presses in Communist regimes have been seen within the frame work of authoritarian theory and the state described as totalitarian. However, such parameters of analysis are based on an understanding that posits liberal capitalist press as the ideal. But if one accepts that there are other systemic possibilities and those systems have different media structures and expectations from the press one has to acknowledge the need to study the Communist media system on its own terms

Normative Theories  

 

The book was published at the height of cold war when both sides were pitted in a battle for the hearts and minds of the still uncommitted world Freedom and unfreedom were posited as the central issues It was claimed that the four theories as articulated formed part of this program Nerone 1995 µthe authors uncritically accepted the myth of the free press in service of society because it suited the interest of the owners

Normative Theories 

Press freedom was closely identified with property rights ± the ownership of the means of publications neglecting the economic barriers to access and the abuse of monopoly

Normative Theories 


Development Media Theory The limited application of the four established theories of the press to Third World countries, which are vastly different from each other and western countries, and with fast changing economic and political conditions, has led to the birth of a new approach whereby communication is used to carry out development tasks in line with nationally established policy ±hence the formulation of development communication theory.

Normative Theories 

The best source for information on this issue is the UNESCO sponsored International Commission for the study of Communication Problems (McBride Commission) published in Many Voices One World (1980).

Normative Theories 

Certain unique characteristics of developing countries limited the applicability of other theories to these countries. Some of these features were absence of communication infrastructure, dependence on the developed world for hard ware and software, the commitment of these societies to economic, political and social development as a primary national task and the developing countries¶ awareness of their similar identity and interest in international politics

Normative Theories 

As a result the developing countries; overriding concern was how to use mass media for nation building. Therefore, in the interest of this task of national development, the freedom of the media and of journalist needs to be curbed to an extent

Normative Theories 


Democratic Participation Theory The democratic participation theory is the most recent addition to the list of normative theories, although it has greater relevance for liberal developed societies but has some elements of the development media theory.

Normative Theories 

According to McQuail this theory is most difficult to formulate ³partly because it lacks full legitimation and incorporation into media institutions and partly because some of its tenets are already to be found in some of the other theories´. However, as this theory a challenge to some of the dominant theories it deserves to be looked at separately.

Normative Theories 

The main features of this theory relate to the needs, interests and aspirations of the active receiver in a political society. It is concerned with the right to information and the right to answer back, the right to use the means of communication for interaction in the small scale setting of the community.

Normative Theories 

This theory supports multiplicity of media, smallness of scale of operation and horizontality of communication at all levels. It opposes uniform, centralized, high cost, highly professionalized and state controlled media.

Normative Theories 

UN agencies have favored this approach and can be seen in the support given to community radio. Its relevance for developing countries is also growing the context of greater demand for the right to information from the grass root level. In India we have recently legislated a Right to Information Bill.

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