Democracy: The Four Theories (Systems) Of Press

1626 words - 7 pages

One must first understand what a democratic system is, and its importance on journalism. According to Lyman Tower Sargent, the seven types of liberty that compose a democratic ideology are:
The right to vote.
Freedom of speech.
Freedom of the press.
Freedom of assembly.
Freedom of religion.
Freedom of movement.
Freedom from arbitrary treatment by the political and legal system.
While all of the above liberties are vital to a democratic society, those most important to journalism are freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and the freedom to assembly. These liberties have not always been present, and in some parts of the world they are still not awarded. One can view the present state of liberties granted to any country at the website At the time of writing this paper an update with regards to Kazakhstan had been posted stating that the Kazakhstani court has ruled to shut down an independent newspaper. Kazakhstani is clearly limited in its freedoms and is not alone in these limitations. In other news, Turkey’s government is using leverage over media to limit public debate on government actions, and going so far as to punish journalists and media owners who dispute this position. Ukraine has also been the center of news recently, with protests and political strife. The Ukraine government has failed to protect freedom of expression and corruption, and poor ethical conditions continue to infiltrate the Ukraine media. This lends credence to my stating that not all parts of the world live under a democratic system of press. Journalism continues to be a very dangerous, and volatile profession for many, and numerous journalists have been killed in their quest to spread the truth. Those fortunate enough to live under a democratic system of press can pay thanks for the progressions that have occurred over time that have allowed for such liberties. There are four theories (systems) of press according to Fred Seaton Siebert that have either brought forth today's democratic press to countries, or are what continue to hinder those not living in such a democracy. The two main systems as noted by Siebert et al are Authoritarian, and Libertarian, and the latter two “theories” are merely developments and modifications of the first two. The (Soviet) Communist theory is only a development of the much older Authoritarian theory, and the Social Responsibility theory is only a modified version of the Libertarian theory.
Our earliest theory, the Authoritarian originated in the middle ages (1300-1600), during a time that royalty and the Church ruled. Kings, and queens were appointed by God; and it was considered blasphemous to challenge their word. To challenge their royal decree could render serious punishment, and even death. Gutenberg’s printing press came into conception at this time; however the press and its production were limited due to the rulers dictating what was printed. During the Renaissance society of that time the...

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