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Journailm Essay

1826 words - 8 pages

Is the media an active participant in democracy or a trafficker of consumer capitalism? Guardians of the citizenry or lap dogs of the power elite? Many journalists see themselves as protectors of our political system or more so as watchdogs of democracy, but the media is concurrently blamed and praised for various aspects of political life. On the one hand, it is indicted of a large spectrum of offenses such as jeopardizing national security, oversimplifying issues of public policy and focusing all too much on the negatives. On the other hand, the same politicians who criticize the media attempt to sway and dominate it, trying to get their messages out to the electorate. What does this say about journalism in the current age? To start with it speaks about the substantial presence the media has in our political system. In many ways, our democracy depends on the media, just as much as the media depends on the political system of a country. As said by Angela Phillips and Tamara Wtschge, “Information is to democracy what oxygen is to fire. Without one the other cannot survive. This is why democracy and the independent news media have developed hand in hand, and why any threat to the survival of organized news in the public interest is also a threat to democracy.” (Changing Journalism, 2011, pg. 1)
In this day and age, the public is able to make their political presence felt and their opinions heard instead of simply being docile receivers of political news. Authors such as Muthukumaraswamy believe that a “significant accomplishment of the new media world is the shifting of power from publishers and advertisers toward the people” (2010, pg. 50). The vast web of the media ensures that the electorate takes responsible, informed and conversant decisions rather than acting out of blissful obliviousness or misinformation. Also, in this digital age there is a great scope for public participation through numerous outlets such as online polls, televised chat programs and most popularly social networking websites. A “more reciprocal relationship between reporters and their audience’ is developing and a more ‘participatory journalism’ is coming about” (Domingo et al., 2008, pg. 326). However, when asking for a greater participatory role of the public we need to contemplate what such a boundless participation means for journalists in this digital age. With the ‘democratisation of news media’ and the growing usage of the internet the question of what the role of journalists is arises. McNair (1995, pg. 21) asserts that in an ideal environment journalists should aim to inform, educate, give publicity to political institutions but at the same time scrutinize these institutions and provide a platform for public political discussion. But in an evolving age where people can upload local news instantly via twitter or YouTube, the foremost resolve of journalists has been “their control of information in their various roles as watchdog, gatekeeper and guardians for...

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