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American democracy was founded on the belief that ultimate power rests in an informed citizenry. But that belief appears naive in an era when private corporations manipulate public policy and the individual citizen is dwarfed by agencies, special interest groups, and other organizations that have a firm grasp on real political and economic power. In Democracy and the News, one of America's most astute social critics explores the crucial link between a weakened news media and weakened democracy. Building on his 1979 classic media critique Deciding What's News, Herbert Gans shows how, with the advent of cable news networks, the internet, and a proliferation of other sources, the role of contemporary journalists has shrunk, as the audience for news moves away from major print and electronic media to smaller and smaller outlets. Gans argues that journalism also suffers from assembly-line modes of production, with the major product being publicity for the president and other top political officials, the very people citizens most distrust. In such an environment, investigative journalism--which could offer citizens the information they need to make intelligent critical choices on a range of difficult issues--cannot flourish. But Gans offers incisive suggestions about what the news media can do to recapture its role in American society and what political and economic changes might move us closer to a true citizen's democracy. Touching on questions of critical national importance, Democracy and the News sheds new light on the vital importance of a healthy news media for a healthy democracy.
In Losing the News, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Alex S. Jones offers a probing look at the epochal changes sweeping the media, changes which are eroding the core news that has been the essential food supply of our democracy. At a time of dazzling technological innovation, Jones says that what stands to be lost is the fact-based reporting that serves as a watchdog over government, holds the powerful accountable, and gives citizens what they need. In a tumultuous new media era, with cutthroat competition and panic over profits, the commitment of the traditional news media to serious news is fading. Indeed, as digital technology shatters the old economic model, the news media is making a painful passage that is taking a toll on journalistic values and standards. Journalistic objectivity and ethics are under assault, as is the bastion of the First Amendment. Jones characterizes himself not as a pessimist about news, but a realist. The breathtaking possibilities that the web offers are undeniable, but at what cost? Pundits and talk show hosts have persuaded Americans that the crisis in news is bias and partisanship. Not so, says Jones. The real crisis is the erosion of the iron core of news, something that hurts Republicans and Democrats alike. Losing the News depicts an unsettling situation in which the American birthright of fact-based, reported news is in danger. But it is also a call to arms to fight to keep the core of news intact. Praise for the hardcover: "Thoughtful." --New York Times Book Review "An impassioned call to action to preserve the best of traditional newspaper journalism." --The San Francisco Chronicle "Must reading for all Americans who care about our country's present and future. Analysis, commentary, scholarship and excellent writing, with a strong, easy-to-follow narrative about why you should care, makes this a candidate for one of the best books of the year." --Dan Rather
-- Scott L. Althaus, Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics
Just how important are public service media to democratic culture? Stephen Cushion puts forward the convincing argument that, for all the commercial choice and competition in contemporary news culture, public service media do not only remain distinctive from market-driven media, they contribute to raising the editorial standards of journalism more widely as well. At a time when public service media are under increasing pressure to justify their licence fees, Cushion undertakes a comprehensive review of studies examining the 'quality' of journalism produced by public and market-driven media around the world. In doing so, some important and timely questions are raised: Do public service media supply editorially distinctive news to market-driven media? Should citizens continue to subsidize news when so much commercial competition and choice is available? Reviewing also the impact news has on people's knowledge, civic participation and levels of trust towards competing media systems, he finds that the democratic value of news is more likely to be enhanced when it is produced by public rather than market-driven media. The Democratic Value of News provides a useful hybrid of theory and practice and helpfully introduces the concept and history of public service broadcasting. It aims to develop and encourage scholarship asking whether public service media are distinctive from market-driven systems, in addition to serving as an invaluable textbook for undergraduate and postgraduate students of Media, Journalism and Communication studies. STEPHEN CUSHION is a Lecturer in Journalism at the Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies, Cardiff University, UK.
Deliberative democracy can be defined as a political system based on citizens' voluntary and free discussions on public issues. Most scholars have discussed deliberative democracy within normative boundaries. However, based primarily on Katz's interpretation of Tarde, this study finds the concept of public sphere a useful framework for operationalizing the normative concept of deliberative democracy, since the four components of the public sphere-news media use, interpersonal communication, opinion formation, and political participation-provide us with empirically testable categories. This study tests the validity of theories of deliberative democracy through examining the inter-relationships among the four components of the public sphere. Methodologically, it includes a set of 63 items to probe where people talk and what they talk about in their daily life. An experimental treatment (a "stop-and-talk" question) is also included in the survey to simulate the effects of real conversation. Through a set of data gathered from a nationwide survey, sufficient evidence was found to support the basic hypotheses: (1) news media use encourages people to have political conversation, (2) news media use and political conversation tend to enhance the quality of opinions (measured by consistency, opinionation, and consideredness), (3) news media use, political conversation, and enhanced opinions encourage political participation. The significance of this study is that: (1) unlike other media effects studies, its dependent variables are not just of opinion positions or attitude changes, but also opinion quality; (2) it does not consider media alone, but deals with the combined effects of interpersonal communication (conversation) and mass media (news media use); (3) it combines an experimental design with a nationwide survey; and (4) it assumes that the effects of mass media do not stop at people's attitudes, but are extended to their activities.
The centrality of the news media to contemporary politics demands that performance of political journalism in New Zealand is scrutinized and its function vigorously debated.

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