Media and democracy essay

Mediaand democracy

  1. Ways through which media deteriorates democratic functions

Themedia is generally expected to play crucial role in the society asfar as democracy is concerned. However, there has been a recentdebate how effective their role has in ensuring that democracy isinstilled in the society. It is important to note that the media hasthe power to determine the extent at which democracy can be exercisedby those in authority. This can be both positive and negative, themedia is assumed to have both positive influence and negativeinfluence in the way democracy is exercised in the society. Thispaper will analyze the extent at which media can deterioratedemocratic function of any authority in the society.

Thereare some research analysts that have confirmed that the media hasfailed to demonstrate its function both as a watchdog and as therepresentative of the society (Boler 13). It has been established byresearch organizations which conducted a case study of media housesfrom about forty seven countries that no media organizations wasfound to score highly as far as democratic representation wasconcerned. The research conducted established that there are greatvariations as far as democratic functions of media houses areconcerned (Dennis et al 46). It is common knowledge that masscommunication is the most popular culture in the culture that existsin the society today. The most prominent sources of information arethe newspapers, television, radio and above all the internet that hasthe social media platforms. This trend and popular culture has beenembraced by most individuals from around the world. However, it isvery important to critically analyze their significance to theexisting political systems and in particular democracy as far as thecitizens are concerned.

Itis common knowledge that some political regimes use the mass media toestablish their position politically. In this regard, these politicalregimes use media as a sure way of securing their positions in power(Dennis et al 48). They control what type of information is to begiven to the people as well as when that time and when thatinformation is to be relayed in order to play psychological politicswith the citizens. Most political regimes own media houses whileothers use their political positions in a manner that intimidates themedia. Therefore most media houses are restricted from playing theircore role of being the citizen’s watchdog to deterioratingdemocracy more with the main aim of securing political position tosome individuals in power (Curran 78).

Thereare some countries such as North Korea that are prominently known fortheir pervasive roles in maintaining democracy. This particularcountry is notoriously known for its media’s role of keeping thecitizens in line as far as restricting their democracy is concerned.Most of the European countries have implemented internationalagreements that acknowledge media’s role in the processes ofdemocracy (Curran 81). Such agreements have been observed incountries that and after the collapse of Soviet Union. It isimportant to understand that historically it has been recorded thatSoviet Union had manipulated the media in securing its positionpolitically and economically. These are some of the most prominentpolitical organization that has used mass media to constrict and thusdeteriorate the democratic space of the people.

Onthe other hand there has been heated public debate as to whether theissue of free mass media is contributing to the collapse of democracyin the modern society (Boler 16). The main argument presented by thecritiques of mass media in this regard, is the fact that mass mediaare business organizations just as other profit making organizations.This means that mass media will more likely be propelled by themarket forces rather than what is morally or ethically right with themain view of making a profit. This reflects media’s unconditionaldedication to the promotional and upholding of the people’sdemocratic space. This action or rather trend only demonstratesmedia’s neglects of its duties to safe guide and exercise itsdemocratic duties to the citizens of the area where it exists. Thisaction has replicating impacts to the citizens as it is the mainmedia of spreading ignorance, cynicism and apathy among the citizensas far as their political rights are concerned.

Itis also important to critically review the other ideological side asfar as media and democracy are concerned. There have been argumentspresented that suggests that the expectations that are placed onmedia might be too high (Curran 80). This means that the society andother stakeholder have placed too much expectation as far as mediaand democracy is concerned. Typically, there are no known establishedboundaries that exist between media and democracy meaning that heexpectations that are placed on media might be of great variance towhat actually exists. This in essence indicates that media has noreally deteriorated the democratic functions that have been set outfor it rather they are too high and unrealistic to achieve. Therefore one of the best ways of assessing as to whether the mediais playing its role in protecting democracy is by assessing the levelat which the people are able to measure the level of threats to theirpersonal interest through the media. The media is assumed to be an isadequate tool for measuring the security of citizens’ interests(Curran 81).

Thereare two major factors that affect media’s performance in securingdemocracy within the people. The media play two major crucial rolesin enacting and demonstrating the level of democracy in any givencountry. The first sure way of determining whether media isdeteriorating democracy in any given country is by measuring thenumber of people who are able to receive the information relayed bythe media (Curran 81). This form of democratic communication withinthe scope of free speech is referred to as the vertical function ofthe media in enacting democracy. It is important to note that thetype of information that can be communicated in this type ofcommunication tool has to be politically relevant for it to beregarded as fulfilling its democratic function. Therefore, the levelof democratic deterioration can be measured by the number of peoplethat a certain media organization is able to communicate to largerecipients (Curran 82).

Thesecond very prominent factor that can be used to determine to measureor assess the value of democratic functioning media in thedevelopment of democratic society is the horizontal function of theinformation relayed by the media (Curran 82). This means thatinformation relayed by the media organizations should have create andhave a platform whereby individuals or the society is able to havedemocratic space of debating or discussing any such information. Inessence this typically means that for democracy to be realized andnot deteriorated, the media should be able to have a platform wherebythe society is able to exercise their right to free speech and theirdemocratic right. Failure to which, any media house would be deemedto outing and acting against the citizens and thus not as a watchdogto democratic peace of any society. This function of mediainformation is important as it reflects the diversity of the societyas well as the diversity of ideological thinking of the citizens.

  1. Using media to overcome the problem of democratic deterioration

Inoverly periods it has been argued that communication is one vitaltool that facilitates individuals to enjoy their political rights andthus their right to exercise their democratic freedom. Most scholarsand political philosophers have overly defined politics ascommunication meaning that there are two or more diverse points ofpolitical thinking that have to come together into a sort ofpolitical agreement after negotiations (Hyden et al 102). It isimportant to understand that most political system fully understandthis information and have for most periods taken advantage of it. Themost open question has been has been as to the exact specificquestion of function that media has been able or is able to fulfill.This is the very discussion of the role of media in ensuringdemocracy is protected and the protection of the free politicalculture of the individuals in the society.

Thereforethe most important ways of overcoming media inadequacies is byunderstanding that very contribution which media plays to theperformance of any political system. It is thus important to accessthe political culture of any society to fully understand theflexibility of media organizations in relaying their very specificfunctions of building positive political channels of communications(Boler 21). There are many media channels such as radio, television,newspapers that have great potential of practically involving almostall individuals to the contributions of any political discussions anddecision-making processes of any political systems.

Itis therefore also important to note that there exists a variety ofconditions, which determines the effectiveness of media organizationsin fulfilling that very function of democracy. There has to be a veryprofessional approach that should be taken by media organizations inregards to media freedom as well as exercising democracy. There areother methods that may be utilized the media organization that maycause polarization in the country and thus cause politicalinstability (Boler 23). For this very reason, the approach take bymedia organizations has to be very professional and balanced from theperspective of the existing political systems as well as thetemperament of the citizens.

Thismeans that information communicated by such media organizations mayresult to serving the interests of the political structures thatexists, the population or the citizens or interest for the commongood (Boler 23). Any message communication made that has some form ofpolitical weight typically has mixed feelings with all stakeholdershaving their distinct reception towards it. In this regard, the mediaorganizations have to assess the sensitivity of any politicalcommunication to make a decision on how effectively to communicate itto overcome the problems associated with media and democracy.

Inaddition, media organizations ought to have the capacity to determinethe long or short tem effects of communicated messages to thepolitical structure of any society (Hyden et al 109). This is animportant assessment process of averting the problems associated withdemocracy in any given organizations. it is important for any mediaorganization to fully study the political and cultural history of anysociety in regards to governance to fully understand how and whencommunicate some vital information that may be carrying potentialweight. This essentially means that the political stability as wellas the long or short term performance of any organization fully restson media organizations.

Additionally,fully understanding the influence of media to the politicaltemperature of the citizens of any organization is a crucial step ofmitigating the problems associated with media and democracy (Denniset al 99). It is import ant to understand that media has mostpopulace and loyalty from the larger population. This implies thefact that media has the full capacity to offer full and meaningfulstructure to the overall public opinion in regards to importantpolitical debates or topics that are of national interest. Thus, themessage that has political weight and may threaten peace to theoverall national peace should be well scrutinized by mediaorganizations before such a message is communicated to the generalpublic. This action, only implies that media organizations are notonly communication channels but are also responsible bodies that canfully assess what form of information system work best for theoverall good of any society.

Otherforms of overcoming the problems of democratic deterioration in mediaorganizations is including other important bodies such as the civilsocieties that constitutes the overall public representation of allspheres of ideas in the modern societies (Dennis et al 100). It isthe supreme responsibility of media organizations being fullyresponsive to public queries by effectively communicating qualityinformation to the public that is ultimately meant to create andbuild a democratic life that is responsive to the needs of the largerpopulation in any society. This is primarily because media plays avital role in creating or developing a political culture that fullyshapes the democratic space of the people in it.

Therefore,it is a crucial need that all media organizations should establisheffective legal framework with which to work from (Hyden et al 121).Such legal frameworks will offer enough and sufficient protection tothe media houses in regards to working and creating democratic spaceswithout the fear of being intimidated by political structuresthriving on intimidation as means of survival. It is thereforeimportant to create conducive environments that offer friendly andworking conditions that create ideal democratic platforms in thepublic spheres. It is common knowledge from recent global reportingthat some countries insinuate the fact that it is indeed verydangerous being a responsible journalist. This is by the main hostilerestrictive legal and constitutional frameworks that have made andcontinue to make democracy an elusive goal or ambition.

Thereis a great need for media organizations forming local, regional orglobal networks that will effectively manage general media’s roleto the society (Hyden et al 126). This is an important strategy thewill offer support to those media organization operate under veryrestrictive or oppressive legal and political systems or regimes.Having a network of community of media organizations, will ensurethat organizations will have the power needed to run operationsassociated with their mandated roles and obligations. This is animportant strategy that ensures that media organizations will have anopportunity to discuss restrictive democratic policies that can bedone away and offer legal protection to all its members and mostparticularly those coming from oppressive regimes and hostile legalframe works (Hyden et al 126). As a one entity, the mediaorganizations will be able to work together guided by the same goalsobligations that will ensure their effective communication ofessential information to the public without fear of politicalintimidation that may lead to democratic deterioration in thesociety.


BolerMegan. Digital Media and Democracy: Tactics in Hard Times. Cambridge,The MIT Press. 2011. Print.

CurranJames. Media and Democracy. New York. Routelldge. 2011. Print.

DennisEugine Everette, Synder W. Robert. Media and Democracy. NewBrunswick. Transaction Publishers. 1995. Print

HydenGoran, Leslie Michael, Odundumu F. Folu. Media and Democracy. NewBrunswick. Transaction Publishers. 2003. Print.