Does media entertainment enrich or deplete the functioning of democracy

Does media entertainment enrich or deplete the functioning of democracy

Does media entertainment enrich or deplete the functioning of democracy?

 

 

 

Introduction

One of the perennial issues of journalism since the emergency of the both the newspaper and television in the 19th century is the thorny issue of journalistic values and what true journalism and values stand for. It’s the tension between journalism as merely witness or watchdog, as passionate truth seeker or dispassionate factual narrator. To some, it is an ever present war increasingly being won by media as dispassionate factual witness. There is credence to this argument because modern media has increasingly become more market oriented and entertainment-driven beset by issues of commercialisation as competition intensifies, a reduction in journalistic autonomy in many countries and a general debasement of journalistic traditions. 

But the crux of the matter is whether market driven media entertainment such as popular films and TV dramas, or documentaries enrich the functioning of democracy or depletes it. Does modern media entertainment add to a politically well informed populace or simply acts as a diversion? Does contemporary media entertainment help to inform and educate citizens, adding independent balance to the political process or does it simply offer powder-puff entertainment in a race to attract viewers and ratings?

Does media entertainment enrich or deplete the functioning of democracy?

In answering the question of whether media entertainment enriches or depletes the functioning of democracy, we will examine both sides of the debate using the most market driven media system in the world as an example, that of the United states. United States media is the most commercially driven media in the world, typified by hyper commercialism (McChesney and Pickard 2011) and erosion of the distinction between serious news and entertainment, blurring the line between editorial and advertising content (Hardy 2014). The argument here is that a market driven model cannot serve the interests of the political process in a democracy because it is caught up in commercial survival and thus prioritizes content that depletes the functioning of democracy. But some scholars argue media entertainment can and does serve democracy.

Using case study content including popular Hollywood movies, TV programs (e.g. 24, Sex and the City) and other media entertainment, we will use these to interpret positive ways media entertainment can be used to influence political ideology as well as the limitations that may well lead to content that depletes the functioning of democracy. In doing this, we shall look at the work of Curran (2011) who identified at least four ways of understanding the democratic meaning of media entertainment, noting four distinct ways media entertainment plays a crucial role in the democratic political process; 

The first way media entertainment adds to the democratic process is what he termed as… 

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References

Curran, James (2011) "Media and Democracy" London: Routledge.
Hardy, Jonathan (2014) “Critical political economy of the media” Milton Park: Routledge
McChesney, W.R., & Pickard, V (Eds.)(2011), “Will The Last Reporter Please Turn Out The Lights? The Collapse of Journalism and What Can Be Done To Fix It” New York: The New Press
 
 

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