- Paperback: 168 pages
- Publisher: University of Illinois Press; 1st Paperback Edition edition (October 1, 1963)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0252724216
- ISBN-13: 978-0252724213
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #626,835 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Four Theories of the Press: The Authoritarian, Libertarian, Social Responsibility and Soviet Communist Concepts of What the Press Should Be and Do (Illini Books) 1st Paperback Edition Edition
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-- The authoritarian system is owned by the state, which controls mass media. This is practiced around the globe in places like North Korea and Iraq.
-- The libertarian theory is essentially to journalism what laissez faire is to economics -- complete freedom of expression and ideas with no controls. This is essentially the World Wide Web.
-- The Soviet system is, like the authoritarian system, state-owned. The difference is the Soviet system regulates its own content. With the death of the USSR and its satellites two decades ago, the remaining users include Cuba and some African countries.
-- The social responsibility model was the American press beginning in the postwar period where muckraking and media investigation of wrongdoing was practiced to make the population wiser and to help improve society. This model existed in major media outlets up until about the time of the Internet. Now, with newspapers dying everywhere and electronic media competing not only with entertainment, cable outlets and the Internet, this theory is dust.
Today, the mainstream American press doesn't adhere to any of these theories. The social responsibility model requires resources most American media outlets no longer can afford including the resource that it can alienate its few remaining advertisers that pay the bills.
Instead, this has been replaced by a more highly-defined model where local outlets don't cover much national or international news and national models work to capture a fragment of the audience by appealing to their politics, prurient interest, or other market faction. Wise media outlets are beginning to understand that free is not a good business model and they are restricting their Web access to subscribers of their hardcopy or finite products. This is likely a wave of the future and may help the American media move back to the social responsibility model.
Meanwhile, the libertarian press thrives but it is every man or woman for himself or herself on the Internet, which is increasingly the dominant communications media for everyone. From Vonage and other companies selling cheap phone service through an Internet connection to the likes of AOL and other major Internet access networks providing their own news, the world has become Wikipedia-ized. Today, the news media is far more individualized than its ever been and public content entities like Wikipedia allow anyone to become a scholar or journalist.
Government and private enterprise have capitalized on this trend by turning their communications entities into news-providing resources that can caputre events and give raw footage or original stories to local news media outlets. The local outlets, which are being resource-squeezed by the economy and competition and no longer have the resources to get this stuff themselves, gladly accept these freebies, thinking they still own the means to production like in the good old days. This is another way ownership of the media has changed in the Internet era and should probably be the basis of a "fifth" theory of the press in the 21st century, one where news media, government and business cooperate instead of compete, much like the three entities did as Japan and Germany were rebuilt after World War II.
Since "Four Theories of the Press" was developed in response to the limitations of the printing press and rarely upgraded in the electronic 20th century, its relevance in the 21st century is questionable. The idea that news media plays an exalted role in American life is no longer accepted as polls show journalists and media outlets on a par with car salesmen. So this book, while an entertaining timepiece of the way things used to be, probably no longer reflects the realities of the world unitl a fifth theory is included.