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Democracy, globalization and emerging/declining media

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Lawrence W.
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  1. Introduction
  2. Herman and Chomsky in Manufacturing Consent
  3. Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media
  4. The Globe and Mail
  5. The limitations of capitalism
  6. Quantity and quality
  7. Conclusion
  8. Works cited

An important question, right now, according to a recent Globe and Mail article, as well as chatter heard recently while riding the grid-lock streets listening to a taxi driver's radio, is if daily newspapers collapse, is this a sign that democracy is in trouble? Is the increasingly globalized nature of the media posing a threat to democracy? Newspapers, or print journalism, historically was said to bring us in-depth detailed analysis of important issues. The press is suppose to be democracy's watchdog, or one of them, another in a series of checks and balances in the contract we make between ourselves and the government. Central to debates about the meaning of democracy and the public sphere are a whole wealth of theorists writings: from Marx to the Frankfurt school, then to post-structuralist critical theories about the media, racism, feminism; Habermas and his notion of the public sphere. Public intellectuals, John Macfarlane, the editor of a magazine called The Walrus, are identified by what they contribute to changing the way we understand the world. They may write columns in newspapers; their thought might enter the public domain, in the sense that others who know what they write of reference their ideas when formulating their own responses to questions surrounding specific issues. If the forces of globalization, like the Internet were to cause newspapers to all fold, to disappear over night, to shut down in the next few months, to what extent would we miss them? Are they outmoded or still viable transmitters of public opinion and information? This essay will argue that democracy will not be jeopardized through new globalized forms of media.

[...] Perhaps it is an institution not of democratic expression and public sphere thinking, but rather a guarded, elite multinationally owned media empire, or set of empires, where the stories we read, and the public discourse that revolves around these stories (in blogs, television late night comedy shows, in CNN television journalism) and so on are coming to us from limited perspectives. Thus, pop culture is not one thing, it can be read in many ways, with our own interpretations of a National Enquirer issue, for example, just as valid a way to understand the world as reading a newspaper. [...]


[...] If it is necessary for democracy, are newspapers as a form, a necessary part of this? Who are the people who are the most important in making sure that this public arena remains lively, open, interrogating the powers- that-be or want to be dominating our lives? John MacFarlane in The Walrus magazines notes that public intellectuals are those who as social critic rather than merely a social observer.? (McFarlane: 13) Blog writers can be both critics and observers, but we might be more interested to track down a daily or weekly blog written by Noam Chomsky than we are going to be interested in one written by the guy at the back of the physics lab who likes to sound off about everything. [...]


[...] This overrides the particular method or technology which will be used; the will and the spirit; the dynamics of criticism and the obliviousness of secrecy battled against, will underlie the foundations of whatever technological process of communication will be involved in the interactivity that results in social restructuring and dynamic change. (Williams, 1975) Works Cited Adorno, T. and Horkheimer, M. (2005) Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception, in Cultural Subjects, Geladoff, Bouler, Faflak, McFarlane, eds., Toronto: Thompson Nelson, pp 51-63. Fiske, J. (1991) ?Popular Texts?, Understanding Popular Culture. London:Routledge, pp 103-127. Habermas, Jurgen, (2001)?The Public Sphere: An Encyclopedia Article? in Durham, M. and Kellner, D., eds., media and cultural studies: keyworks, Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, pp. 102-107 Herman, Edward and Chomsky, Noam, (1982. Manufacturing Consent, New York; [...]

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