Which is the Lesser of Two Evils?

February 13, 2010 at 4:50 pm Leave a comment

This week in my contemporary media issues class we have been reading chapters in Robert McChesney’s book, The Political Economy of Media concerning the so-called problem of journalism (the commercialization of journalism and its implications) and how we should be thinking about journalism.

McChesney’s main argument is that “professional journalism” is supposed to inform citizens and inspire them. It is supposed to be objective and ask the hard questions that no one else will. In order for journalism to work, it needs democracy. And in order for democracy to work, it needs journalism.

With the commercialization of journalism, McChesney talks about how the tough questions are no longer being asked and how journalism isn’t functioning like it’s supposed to. He says that because journalism is now run by a select few, it is the interest of those few that are being pushed to the masses. Is democracy as we know in danger? Could we be heading toward a state headed by an oligopoly?

I sincerely doubt it. As much as McChesney wants to suggest that journalism is the end all, be all, it is not. I’m sure there are other factors that make a democracy work. What do you think makes a democracy work? Do you think our government and the way of life as we know it is in danger if journalism somehow disappears?

An alternative McChesney suggests to having journalism being owned by media conglomerates is for the government to provide public subsidies to fund journalism so that there can be many voices in the marketplace. But how would news be safeguarded against the interests of the government? And wouldn’t this be propelling us ever closer to a propaganda state? What are the other consequences of this option?

So I ask you, readers, which is the lesser of these two evils: having news media that is controlled by a few big corporations, or news media that is subsidized by the government but is polyvocal? And why?

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Entry filed under: COM 580- Contemporary Media Issues.

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