Understanding Media for Democratization (Unit I) | K.D'S CaFe Virtual World for learning and sharing because share is care.

Understanding Media for Democratization (Unit I)

Democracy; Governance; Concepts of freedom of expression and access to information; Free
and fair news media.

All large, modern 'liberal democracies' are, in effect, representative democracies or 'deformed
polyarchies' (Dahl and Lindblom, 1953).
Popular sovereignty—the idea that the People are the ultimate authority and the source of the
authority of government—is a fundamental principle of democracy.
The political equality of all citizens is an essential principle of democracy. In a democracy, the
just powers of government are based upon the consent of the governed.
Free elections and other forms of civic participation are essential to democracy. If the People are
to rule, they must have practical means of determining who shall exercise political power on
their behalf. If they are to rule, the People must also monitor and influence officials‘ behavior
while in office.
Elections are at the heart of the practical means for the People to assert their sovereignty.
The People do not give power to government to oppress or abuse, but rather to protect their
fundamental rights, interests, and welfare. Therefore they limit government power by
authoritative fundamental laws called constitutions.
In every democracy, with three exceptions (Britain, Israel, and New Zealand), the constitution is
a written document.
Constitutions are the means used to state what powers government shall have. In defining these
powers, constitutions limit them. This is so because governments may exercise only the powers
defined in the constitution.
An essential means of limiting government is establishing a rule of law, beginning with the
constitution itself, which is a fundamental law. Thus the rule of law is a primary element of
Separation of powers refers to the division of government responsibilities into distinct branches
to limit any one branch from exercising the core functions of another. The intent is to prevent
the concentration of power and provide for checks and balances.
The term was coined Montesquieu, an 18th century French social and political philosopher. His
publication, Spirit of the Laws, is considered one of the great works in the history of political
theory and jurisprudence, and it inspired the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the
Constitution of the United States. Under his model, the political authority of the state is divided
into legislative, executive and judicial powers. He asserted that, to most effectively promote
liberty, these three powers must be separate and acting independently.

According to Robert A. Dahl, Definition of Representative Democracy is as follows:
Georg Sorensen Democracy & Democratization (1993): ―Meaningful and extensive competition
among individuals and groups (especially parties) for all portions of government power, at
regular intervals... A highly inclusive level of political participation in the selection of leaders
and policies, at least through regular and fair elections, such that no major (adult) social group is
excluded. A level of civil and political liberties - freedom of expression, freedom of the press,
freedom to form and join organizations...
In his book, Democracy and its Critics (1989), Dahl clarifies his view about democracy. No
modern country meets the ideal of democracy, which is as a theoretical utopia. To reach the ideal
requires meeting five criteria:
1. Effective participation
Citizens must have adequate and equal opportunities to form their preference and place
questions on the public agenda and express reasons for one outcome over the other.
2. Voting equality at the decisive stage
Each citizen must be assured his or her judgments will be counted as equal in weights to
the judgments of others.
3. Enlightened understanding
Citizens must enjoy ample and equal opportunities for discovering and affirming what
choice would best serve their interests.
4. Control of the agenda
Demos or people must have the opportunity to decide what political matters actually are
and what should be brought up for deliberation.
5. Inclusiveness
Equality must extend to all citizens within the state. Everyone has legitimate stake within
the political process.
Dahl attributes to the ideal several essential criteria, focused largely on political equality
and freedom. He goes on to describe a number of advantages to the democratic ideal,
and while noting its shortcomings, embraces democracy as the best practicable system
of governance.
He concerns ―actual‖ democracy, examining various forms of democracy that have
developed at different times and places. The essential democratic ideal can be pursued
through a variety of mechanisms.
Dahl attempts to explain the development of modern democracies, their expansion in the
late twentieth century, and the likely future of this trend in the twenty-first century. Dahl
is especially concerned with the relationship between free-market capitalism and
democracy. In addition, Dahl notes several other potential threats to modern democracies,
including cultural diversity and inadequate civic education.
Free and fair news media
A free, pluralistic and independent news media, on all platforms, is important for facilitating
good governance and transparency.
Freedom of expression is essential to the democracy and the democratisation process. It forms a
central pillar of the democratic framework through which all rights are promoted and protected,
and the exercise of full citizenship is guaranteed. A robust democratic framework in turn, helps
create the stability necessary for society to develop in a peaceful and relatively prosperous
manner. Through freedom of expression, politics can unfold in an unfettered and constructive
Protected by the international declarations, charters and reference texts on communication,
including Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) concerning the
freedom of expression, a free media means:
-right to communication as a fundamental right.
-usage of internet as a common good.
-promotion of democratic regulatory frameworks by advocating the development of
independent organizations and agencies, especially against hyper-media concentration.
-encouraging atmosphere for the development of community media, reserving and assigning
frequencies dedicated to the social sector.
-strengthen of the independence of public service broadcasting (or public media) vis-à-vis
government and market interests.
-encouraging atmosphere for the use of languages and dialects in the various areas of media
expression, paying particular attention to minority languages.
-assertion for the implementation of public policies to strengthen free media, their quality and
-rejection of the monopolization of Internet infrastructure, data grabbing by corporations, and
the monitoring of cyberspace.
-advocation of the establishment of democratic Internet governance policies including a
guarantee of network neutrality, the right to network privacy and freedom of expression in the
social networks.
-facilitation for the access to free and open technologies.
-encouraging atmosphere for universal access to communication and broadband Internet.
fighting against the criminalization of activists and organizations who implement free media.
protection of journalists and all communication activists subjected to violence, persecution or
-mobilization and creation of links between different media and social movements, particularly
in the context of the World Social Forum process. 

Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR): Everyone has the
right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes the right to hold opinions without
interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media regardless
of frontiers.
Fairness is the hardest to define, but it has a lot to do with avoiding bias, treating people equally
and allowing people to have equal chances to do things or express themselves.
Even if we are not able to put it into words, we may have a natural understanding of fairness if
we care about other people and are sensitive to their needs.
Fairness is made up of two parts:
Objectivity is not forcing our own personal opinions on the news. The opposite of objectivity
is subjectivity.
Impartiality, which is not taking sides on an issue where there is a dispute. Impartiality also
includes presenting all sides of an argument fairly, what we call balance.
Even if we have strong feelings about an issue, we must not use the news to put over our own
arguments; we must not try to give extra time or better coverage to people we agree with and less
time or worse coverage to those we disagree with.
For the good journalist, objectivity and impartiality are two sides of the same coin. If you can be
objective and control your personal feelings on an issue, you can also be even-handed in your
treatment of all sides.
Although impartiality or bias can enter all areas of journalism, the greatest dangers lie in
reporting politics, industrial disputes, religion, race and sport. Any area in which people have
very strong feelings can lead to conflict and to bias in reporting the issue.
The same general principles which govern objectivity can also help us to be impartial. Forget our
personal preferences while working on a story stand back from it and try to look at the issues
through the eyes of people both for and against. That may not change our personal opinion that
something is wrong, but it will help us to be fair.
While objectivity, balance and fairness are goals for most professional news organizations, it is
simply that, goals as opposed to a mandate. Most professional media organizations believe it is
good business and good journalism to try to present news and information is a fair, objective and
balanced way. While objectivity and balance is mandated for public broadcasting, there is no
such mandate for commercial media outlets. Yet many non-public news organizations have
ombudsmen, or standards editors. Many also have training programs that emphasize journalistic
values and ethics, including the obligation to be balanced and objective. In fact, almost all the
best practices mentioned later in this report stem from activities undertaken by commercial media outlets in order to prove to the public that they are attempting to be as free from bias as
possible when presenting news and information.
Fairness as well as the principle of justice are no keywords in journalism and journalism
research. Thus, the analysis concentrates on the role the fairness principle plays in more common
concepts like 'media ethics', 'objectivity', or 'journalistic professionalism'. In these perspectives
fairness usually means to consider the entire aspects of public communication. Journalists
constantly are faced with those challenges. To guarantee a fair reporting professional standards
and social responsibility of journalism are meaningful impacts. Nevertheless, the different
conditions of being fair to the sources of information as well as to the audience leads to the thesis
that journalism cannot always be fair since it cannot cope with the expectations of all groups and
all aspects of public communication.
The principle of fairness in journalism is based on the philosophical principle of justice.
According to Rawls (1971, p. 3), justice is ―the first virtue of social institutions‖. Some kind of
justice in a society is essential because necessary or desired goods like the news coverage are
usually scarce and people have different perceptions about what they need to ensure their own
Competing requirements and interests lead to conflicts. To control such conflicts, an adequate
solution is required (Holzleithner, 2009). However, even journalism is a social institution, and
news coverage is not the result of the work of individual journalists: it depends much more on
specific organisational settings in the newsroom, the roles of various positions, the pre-settings
determined by the goals of the journalistic organisation, and the influences of various
technologies. Even if the individual level, with its analysis of role perception, for example, is of
importance, the individual journalist is always embedded in organisational and institutional
patterns that, as pre-arranged structures, influence journalists‘ work and behaviour in the
newsroom (Altmeppen, 2008). These institutions shall assure the professional performance of
journalism and they enable journalism to control and to solve conflicts.
Fairness and Ethics
Media ethics, as a special case of ethics, can be derived from targets formulated for human
communication: consistency, truthfulness, argumentativity, fairness, and freedom from external
Fairness and Objectivity
The doctrine of journalism objectivity was developed in the 1920s after almost a century of
anticipation in the popular press. After the First World War, the term  ̳objectivity‘ and the
underlying idea became a common and fundamental principle for the daily work of journalists,
and was specifically mentioned in numerous press codes and ethical debates.
An aspect of fairness dealt with in journalistic codes of ethics is fairness to people in the news.
An essential part of this is understanding that many people who get involved in the news are
private individuals not always comfortable being in the spotlight and often upset and unhappy to
be the focus of attention by the press. Sensitivity in dealing with people is important. And journalists must recognize the right to privacy. Privacy is a legal matter, as we have seen, but it is
also an ethical concern. Journalists must do their work in such a way that people--the public,
newspaper readers, individuals who become part of a news story--are treated fairly, decently and
with compassion. Fairness is a balancing act. The press must be fair to people in the news, but it
must also be fair to the reading public by seeing that the public is adequately informed about
situations, events, issues and people (Hough, 1991, p.454).
The principle of fairness in journalism is based on the philosophical principle of justice.
According to Rawls (1971, p.3), justice is "the first virtue of social institution." Some kind of
justice in a society is essential because necessary of desired goods like news coverage are usually
scarce and people have different perceptions about what they need to ensure their own welfare.
Public journalism
Notion of the press (in public journalism): a fair-minded participant in a community that
works. As an attempt of a kind of press reform against the exercise in public
disillusionment and political cynicism, public journalism was started in US in early 1990.
The function of a third party-a referee or umpire or judge-in sports competition is to
facilitate the deciding of the outcome.
The fair-minded participant-referring particularly to the role of the referee (The referee doesn't
make the rules. Those are agreed on by the contestants—in this case, the democratic public. The
referee, rather, is the fair-minded caretaker.)
(What journalists should bring to the arena of public life is knowledge of the rules –how the
public has decided a democracy should work—and the ability and the willingness to provide
relevant information and a place for that information to be discussed and turned into democratic
consent. Like the referee, to maintain our authority—the right to be heard—we must exhibit no
partisan interest in the specific outcome other than it is arrived at under the democratic process.)
Public journalism avoids partisan interests by disregarding the realities of political power and by
appealing instead to a republican ideal which locates politics in a common discussion open and
accessible to all interested citizens. Understandably, its democracy by dialogue attracts
journalists, politicians and others who would prefer a diffusion of power consistent with a direct,
participatory democracy.
The press as an institution must support the maintenance of public space and public life, it must
find ways in which the public can address one another, and it must enhance those qualities of
discourse such as decent manners and formal social equality that allow public space to develop
and to be maintained.
In support of the proposition that public expression deserves constitutional protection not
because it advances the interests of individuals but because public journalism enables citizens
to understand the issues which bear upon our common life. "Reporters and editors need to become activists, not on behalf of a particular party or politician,
but on behalf of the process of self-government. It is time to expose the threats to that process
and support the efforts to get rid of them."
Journalistic activism
Journalists to better equip their readers, viewers, and listeners to "sort through" the manipulative
techniques of political consultants; the press needed to find ways to combat—or at least
compensate for –these "new bosses of American politics" who "knew how to use polls and media
and all these other modern communications devices to manipulate public opinion and produce
the desired results on election day."
Still fundamental distinction between what journalists do and what civic leaders or politician do
The essence of politics—is getting people engaged.
Public journalism avoids partisan interests by disregarding the realities of political power and
by appealing politics in a common discussion open and accessible to all interested citizens,
Public journalism hopes to alter democracy fundamentally by "orienting people to common
goods beyond their private ends."  


Notes provided by Dr. Kundan Aryal  



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K.D'S CaFe Virtual World for learning and sharing because share is care.: Understanding Media for Democratization (Unit I)
Understanding Media for Democratization (Unit I)
JMC, Democracy All large, modern 'liberal democracies' are, in effect, representative democracies or 'deformed polyarchies' Free and fair news media Democracy; Governance; Concepts of freedom of expression and access to information; Free and fair news media. m.a jmc, how to use media, mass communication , mass communication process. online journalism, education blog, nepali media history.
K.D'S CaFe Virtual World for learning and sharing because share is care.
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