Democratic Media - Background of The Term

Background of The Term

The idea of democratic media stems from the belief that media is a vital part of a democratic society;

First, media perform essential political, social, economic, and cultural functions in modern democracies. In such societies, media are the principal source of political information and access to public debate, and the key to an informed, participating, self-governing citizenry. Democracy requires a media system that provides people with a wide range of opinion and analysis and debate on important issues, reflects the diversity of citizens, and promotes public accountability of the powers-that-be and the powers-that-want-to-be.

To therefore, if media is vital for democracy, democratic media argues that media itself needs to be organized along different lines to the existing forms;

The evidence is clear: if we want a media system that produces fundamentally different results, we need solutions that address the causes of the problems; have to address issues of media ownership, management, regulation, and subsidy. Our goal should be to craft a media system that reduces the power of a handful of enormous corporations and advertisers to dominate the media culture.

The idea of democratic media is still in its infancy as noted by Carroll & Hackett (2006 where they term it 'democratic media activism' however the idea does have older roots; In 'Triumph of the Market: Essays on Economics, Politics, and the Media' Edward S Herman wrote that democratic media was a condition of democracy;

A democratic media is a primary condition of popular rule, hence of a genuine political democracy. Where the media are controlled by a powerful and privileged elite, whether of government leaders and bureaucrats or those of the private sector, democratic political forms and some kind of limited political democracy may exist, but not genuine democracy.

The term has been used to describe a number of new media projects from Wikipedia to the Indymedia movement to describe how it saw itself;

Indymedia is a democratic media outlet for the creation of radical, accurate, and passionate tellings of truth.

Democratic media differs from similar (and related) concepts such as citizen media, media democracy and independent media (aka alternative media) in that it puts as much emphasis on the organization of the media project as it does on the content. (Note; this definition means that an independent media or citizen media project can also be a democratic media project, but being an independent media or citizen media project does not mean it is automatically a form of democratic media. It also means there could be a project that promotes the concepts of media democracy without it itself explicitly claiming to be a form of democratic media.) For a media project to be considered democratic media it must have (or strive towards) the following characteristics:

  • Open publishing
  • Transparency (humanities)
  • Accountability
  • Open access (publishing)
  • Non-commercial

Read more about this topic:  Democratic Media

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