Peffley, PS 475, Politics and Mass Media
A. What is the (proper & actual) role of the media in a modern democracy?
How could the news media let this happen? “Misperceptions,
the Media, and Iraq War”
II. Two clashing theories of democracy and the role of the media in a democracy
A. Classical Representative Democratic (CRD) Theory (J. S. Mill, John Locke, Jefferson, Dewey). Fundamental principles:
1. Political values
a) Popular Sovereignty:
(1) Govt policies reflect what people want
(2) People participate in the political process
(3) High-quality information and debate are available
(4) Majority rules
b) Political Equality
c) Political liberty, public deliberation
2. Role of political elites: Delegate role of representatives
3. Role of masses: Mass sophistication
Role of journalists: How can journalists enhance
democracy instead of undermining it?
B. Democratic Elitism (Walter Lippmann, Plato).
1. Critique of CRD: Polity is too big, problems too complex, dangers of mass communications, masses are asses.
2. Role of political elites: Trustee role of representatives
3. Role of masses: Low mass sophistication
4. Political values
a) Elite deliberation
b) Minimal popular sovereignty
c) Democratic stability
5. Role of journalists
a) Rule by expert elite of government and journalists.
b) Journalists as leaders rather than followers of public opinion.
III. Ideal roles of media in democracy: the media as the "marketplace of ideas" and journalistic dilemmas (see Robert Entman, Democracy Without Citizens)
A. Ideal roles
1. Mirror reality
2. Accountability or watchdog journalism
3. Marketplace of ideas
4. Public affairs journalism
5. Journalistic dilemma (Robert Entman)
See also Iyengar & McGrady’s
functions of media in democratic society
B. Economic and political constraints on the media
a) Accountability journalism is problematic
b) Mirror journalism is unrealistic
c) Increasing competition in news industry
d) Marketplace of ideas is contradicted by concentration of media ownership, globalization and domination by major multi-national corporations?
a) Heavy reliance on "official" government sources & symbiotic exchange with political elites
b) Regulation of the market and public funding: Comparing the U.S. and Europe (also see Iyengar & McGrady)