Friday, May 11, 2012

Media Power in Contemporary Democracy

Media Power in Contemporary Democracy
By Adan Makina, PhT, AA, BAS, MA

The media is a strong tool for disseminating information to the public and it is therefore the eyes and ears that stand out to expose the unethical behaviors of public servants. Without the media’s use of investigative journalism to unearth the daily misdeeds of public servants, the public would not have the chance to scrutinize and understand their elected officials. The media deserves credit for playing a great role in spearheading approaches that are significant to public policy and governance (Shamsul Haque, 2000). It is the media that often reveals the enormities of corruption and subversion that exist in governments. Often times, instances evolve when the media reports incidents that are unsubstantiated, biased, and blown out of proportion. In such cases, grieving parties seek judicial considerations in arbitration courts.

Gentzkow and Shapiro (2006) perceive the media as practicing selective omission by reporting events in radical ways such that three news outlets may use different choice of words in a single report. Depending on political and social inclination, the media is apt to cling to the values that conform to its beliefs. Watts, Domke, Shah, and Fan (1999) contend that former presidential hopeful Bob Dole heaped blamed on the media for his unsuccessful attempts to defeat Democratic Party presidential contender Bill Clinton in 1996. In the past, numerous American politicians have been thoroughly scrutinized by the media for disorderly behaviors yet little was done to apprehend the said officials before a court of law to be penalized.

In order to receive public trust, sell its products, and emerge the best in terms of delivery of services, the media will always look for themes that can make good and appealing headlines. It is the freedom of press enshrined in the U.S. Constitution that gives the media the tool to behave in a given way. While not all media outlets enjoy equal status before the public, it is the giant media corporations that usually have leverage over tender and emerging media outlets. Unlike in totalitarian nations where the media is censored or at times owned by the state, media conglomerations in Western democracies enjoy an atmosphere of free press leaving them free to write and disclose burning issues regardless of future altercations.


Shamsul Haque, M. (2000). Significance of accountability under the new approach to public governance. International Review of Administrative Sciences, SAGE Publications: Thousand Oaks, CA. Vol. 66 (2000), PP. 599–617.

Gentzkow, M. and Shapiro, J.M. (2006). Media bias and reputation. Journal of Political Economy, 2006, vol. 114, no. 2.

Watts, M.D., Domke, D., Shah, D.V., and Fan, D.P. (1999). Elite cues and media bias in presidential campaigns: Explaining public perceptions of a liberal press. Communication Research, VOL. 26 No. 2, April 1999, 144-175.

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