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Importing the Fourth Estate to the European Union: Importing the Fourth Estate to the European Union: Problems and considerations for European democracy.

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Presentation on theme: "Importing the Fourth Estate to the European Union: Importing the Fourth Estate to the European Union: Problems and considerations for European democracy."— Presentation transcript:

1 Importing the Fourth Estate to the European Union: Importing the Fourth Estate to the European Union: Problems and considerations for European democracy Jesse Owen Hearns-Branaman PhD Researcher Institute of Communication Studies, University of Leeds

2 Outline 1) Relationship between democracy and news media 2) Fourth Estate as Myth 3) Development of Fourth Estate Myth i. Formative Phase ii. Simulation-Reinforcement Phase 4) Applications to EU 5) Further Research

3 1) Relationship between Democracy and News Media Hackett (2005) – Three Critiques Free Market / Neoliberal / Neoconservative Public Sphere Liberalism Radical Democratic / Politico-Economic Hallin & Mancini (2004) – Three Models Liberal – secular, market mechanisms, commercial Democratic Corporatist – commercial/secular, limited state Polarized Pluralized – non-secular, strong state Splichal (2006) – Publicness Kant – Publicity, enlightenment of the people, public use of reason, free speech and expression, moral force Bentham – Utilitarian (maximum happiness), surveillance of the government by press, free press

4 1) Relationship between Democracy and News Media Agreement from many scholars that free market / liberal / Bentham systems are greatly limited by relationship with capital But ideas of free press and free speech are conflated (Splichal 2006) All place news media as important in performing Fourth Estate-style checks (Hackett 2005: 86, 89, 92; Hallin & Mancini 2005: 225, 231; etc)

5 Spread of Liberal/Free Market system UK has already moved towards a more American system (Herman & McChesney 1997: ) Media consultants from USA are being hired to give advice over much of Europe (Allan 2000) Liberal system is gaining dominance outside its homeland (Hallin & Mancini 2004, 2005) Importation will cause increased corruption for parties and a vicious circle of further alienation from ordinary voters (Voltmer 2006: 252)

6 3) Fourth Estate as Myth 3) Fourth Estate as Myth (Bottici 2007: 112) is not an explanation that is put forward to satisfy a contemplative curiosity over the world derives its crucial features from the fact that it has a specific social function Tends to function less by providing ultimate explanations for being than religion/spirituality less on how the world exists than science Performs a role left unfilled, even in enlightened and modern societiesMyth Science Spirituality

7 3) Fourth Estate as Political Myth the work on a common narrative by which the members of a social group (or society) … make significance of their experience and deeds (Bottici 2007: 133) The Fourth Estate was neither a consistent nor absolutely clear set of practices, yet it was an important contribution to the discursive formation of journalism (Conboy 2004: 109) It provided an important rhetorical bridge between the interests of the newspapers and those of the newly enfranchised … middle classes (ibid)

8 3) Myth & Class 3) Myth & Class (Barthes 1957: ) Myth consists in admitting the accidental evil of a class-bound institution to better conceal its principal evil (i.e. the capitalist system) This immunizes the contents of the collective imagination by means of a small inoculation of acknowledged evil: one thus protects it against the risk of a generalized subversion. So now the bourgeoisie no longer hesitates to acknowledge some localized subversions because they help to hide the larger principal evil

9 4) Development of the Fourth Estate Myth Performance of watchdog functions Branding as adversarial Branding as biased, left-wing Secularization Legal Protection of Press Marketization / Corporatization Professionalization Formative Phase (18 th /19 th Centuries) Simulation-Reinforcement Phase

10 3.i) Formative Phase Secularisation – Out of direct control of political parties and government Marketization/Corporatization – Cover price went below cost, reliance on marketplace of ideas Legal protection – Freedom of expression, speech and/or press laws established and enforced Professionalization – Establishment of professional norms and standards

11 3.i) Effects of Formative Phase? 1. Established apparent neutrality and trustworthiness of news media in the publics eyes 2. Placed news media under corporate control, intimately tied with capitalist interests in general 3. Legal protection encouraged expansion of news media businesses 4. Constrained activist (i.e. working-class) publications 5. Gave journalists a professional motivation (myth / common narrative) 6. Constrained debate (Is journalism performing its watchdog function well enough?)

12 3.ii) Simulation-Reinforcement Phase The social machine now moves … on a Möbius strip, and the social actors are always on both sides of the contract (Baudrillard 2001: 21) Actual performance of watchdog functions (i.e. Watergate, David Kelly affair) Branding of news media as adversarial towards government / business interests Branding of news media actors as being biased (too liberal, too conservative)

13 Example: Watergate Scandal Example: Watergate Scandal (Baudrillard 1978: 26-27) Scandal is a means to regenerate a moral and political principle because denunciation of scandal always pays homage to the law. And Watergate above all succeeded in imposing the idea that Watergate was a scandal Hence, the resignation of Nixon was simply a reinjection of a large dose of political morality on a global scale …capital, which is immoral and unscrupulous, can only function behind a moral superstructure, and whoever regenerates this public morality spontaneously furthers the order of capital, as did the Washington Post journalists Before, the task was to dissimulate scandal … today, the task is to conceal the fact that there is no real scandal

14 3.ii) Effects of Simulation- Reinforcement Phase? 1. Occasional exposure of corruption shows the public the system is working 2. Simulates adversarial relationship while still maintaining reverence for capitalism 3. News media reiterate adherence to professional norms, continuing to limit activist media (i.e. Internet) 4. Simulates public debate (balance means only two sides to an issue? Are they or arent they? instead of Is it important?) 5. Aids justification for increased deregulation of media system 6. Reinforces false subject(ive) / object(ive) divide (Calcutt & Hammond 2008)

15 4) APPLICATION TO EU NEWS MEDIA SYSTEM? Secularized: State-by-state basis, but neutrality is encouraged Marketized, ad dependant, corporatized: public-supported news might come under attack? deregulation? Legally protected of press, professionalized: under Charter of Fundamental Rights more talk for EU-wide standards? Fifth freedom of expression? Performance as watchdog: not Europe-wide yet as most news markets are more local-based; Dr. Meyer : EU commission aims at invulnerability Branding as adversarial, biased: Prof. Trenz - news media seen (hoped?) by EU to perform instrumental role

16 4) A PPLICATIONS FOR EU D EMOCRACY Policy makers need to differentiate between free speech, free expression and free press Advertising-based media is not a reliable business model for watchdog journalism Actual performance of watchdog functions does not preclude passive government/business influence Commercial news media cannot be relied on to check systemic corruption Dr. Michailidou: democratization vs. PR (political marketing) functions

17 FURTHER RESEARCH & QUESTIONS Public sphere – Contribution of news media to PS will always be coloured by corporate control? Class and media – need to examine relationship better (i.e. media as a class institution) Comparative media systems – analysis of spread of Fourth Estate Myth in transitioning democracies Problematizing and critiquing terms of analysis – Nation-state boundaries? Regional systems? Trans-national media companies? (i.e. v an de Steeg 2002)

18 S ELECTED B IBLIOGRAPHY Allen, C. (2000), Sold American: US news consultants and news issues abroad in R. Anderson & L Strate (eds), Critical Studies in Media Commercialism, (Oxford University) Barthes, R. (1957 [1993]), Myth today, in Mythologies, A. Lavers (tr.) (Vintage) Baudrillard, J. (1978 [1994]), Precession of simulacra, P. Foss & P. Patton (trs), in Simulations, (Semiotext(e)). Baudrillard, J. (2001), Impossible Exchange, C. Turner (tr.), (Verso). Bennett, W. L. (2000), Media power in the United States, in J. Curran & M.-J. Park (eds), De-Westernizing Media Studies, (Routledge). Blumenberg, H. (1979 [1985]), Work on Myth, R. Wallace (tr), (MIT) Bottici, C. (2007), A Philosophy of Political Myth, (Cambridge University) Calcutt, A. & P. Hammond (2008) Future of objectivity, paper presented at End of Journalism?: Technology, Education & Ethics conference, University of Bedfordshire, Luton, UK: Oct 17-18, 2008 Chomsky, N. (2002a), Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky, P.R. Mitchell & J. Schoeffel (eds), (The New Press) Conboy, M. D. (2004), Journalism: A Critical History, (Sage) Curran, J. (1978), The press as an agency of social control: An historical perspective, in G. Boyce, J. Curran & P. Wingate (eds), Newspaper History from the Seventeenth Century to the Present Day, (Constable) Curran, J. (2000), Rethinking media and democracy, in J. Curran & M. Guerevitch (eds), Mass Media and Society, 3 rd Edition (Arnold) Curran, J. (2002), Media and Power, (Routledge)

19 S ELECTED B IBLIOGRAPHY Eriksen, E. O., J. E. Fossum & A. J. Menendez (2004), A constitution in the making? in E. O. Eriksen, J. E. Fossum & A. J. Menendez (eds), Developing a Constitution for Europe, (Routledge) Fraleigh, D. M., & Tuman, J. S. (1997), Freedom of Speech in the Marketplace of Ideas, (Bedford/St. Martins) Fraser, N. (1992), Rethinking the public sphere: A contribution to the critique of actually existing democracy, in C. Calhoun (ed.), Habermas and the Public Sphere, (MIT) Hallin, D. C., & P. Mancini (2004), Comparing Media Systems: Three Models of Media and Politics, (Cambridge University) Hallin, D. C., & P. Mancini (2004), Comparing Media Systems, in J. Curran & M. Gurevitch (eds), Mass Media & Society, 4 th ed., (Hodder Arnold) Habermas, J. (1962 [1991]), The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society, (MIT) Habermas, J. (2004), Why Europe needs a constitution, in E. O. Eriksen, J. E. Fossum & A. J. Menendez (eds), Developing a Constitution for Europe, (Routledge) Hackett, R. A. (2005), Is there a democratic deficit in US and UK journalism?, in S. Allan (ed), Journalism: Critical Issues, (Open University) Hearns-Branaman, J. O. (2008), Must we ourselves not become gods?: A perspective on the visual theories of Foucault, Debord and Baudrillard in explaining contemporary power structures, in The International Journal of Baudrillard Studies, 5(2). Heilbroner, R. L. (1985), The Nature and Logic of Capitalism, (Norton) Herman, E. S., & Chomsky, N. (1988), Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media, (Vintage) Herman, E. S., & McChesney, R. W. (1997), The Global Media: The New Missionaries of Corporate Capitalism, (Cassel) Lippman, W. (1920 [2007]), Liberty and News, (Princeton University Press)

20 S ELECTED B IBLIOGRAPHY McChesney, R. W. (2004), The Problem of the Media: U.S. Communication Politics in the 21 st Century, (Monthly Review) Splichal, S. (1999), Public Opinion: Developments and Controversies in the 20 th Century, (Rowman and Littlefield) Splichal, S. (2002), The principle of publicity, public use of reason and social control, in Media, Culture and Society, vol. 24: Splichal, S. (2006), In search of a strong European public sphere: Some critical observations on conceptualizations of publicness and the (European) public sphere, in Media, Culture & Society 28(5): Trenz, H. (2004), Media coverage on European governance: Exploring the European public sphere in national quality newspapers, in European Journal of Communication 19(3): Van de Steeg (2002), Rethinking the conditions for a public sphere in the EU, in European Journal of Social Theory 5(4): Voltmer, K. (2006), Conclusion: Political communication between democratization and the trajectories of the past, in K. Voltmer (ed), Mass Media and Political Communication in New Democracies, (Routledge)

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