Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Framework and Discourse For Media Democracy

Chomsky wrote:

The concept of 'democratizing the media' has no real meaning within the terms of political discourse in the United States. In fact, the phrase has a paradoxical or even vaguely subversive ring to it. Citizen participation would be considered an infringement on freedom of the press, a blow struck against the independence of the media that would distort the mission they have undertaken to inform the public without fear or favor... this is because the general public must be reduced to its traditional apathy and obedience, and driven from the arena of political debate and action, if democracy is to survive.
Now obviously Chomsky gave the word "democracy" in that last bit an ironic signification. "Democracy" is supposed to be the framework the mainstream media exists within, yet their establishment is itself un-democractic. The press have created an a class-based society where only those who are credited by institutions and corporations can participate in society's story-telling process. The "Freedom of the Press" thus represents the disconnected autonomy that the press class has, and if class-barriers are coming down then this is an infringement upon autonomy. This is the implicit framework for political discourse about media democracy which the ruling classes have setup. When Chomsky wrote that 20 years ago, "media democracy" had no real meaning within that political discourse. Today media democracy has the potential to be a vibrant marketplace of ideas, and is potentially very meaningful. We realize that freedom of the press actually belongs to anyone with the ability to publish, which includes virtually everyone. Now the internal media democracy discourse should be focused on standards and whether there should be any.

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