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Normative Theories of Mass Communication
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Normative Theories of Mass Communication

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  1. Normative Theories of Mass Communication MCOM 301: Media Law & Ethics

  2. Normative Theory • It is a type of theory that describes an ideal way of the media should be structured and operated within the society

  3. What is Normative Theory ? • This theory explains how ideal media ought to operate with specific system of social values. Theories of the press and its role in a society would fit in this category. • It is a synthesis of ideas developed over the past four centuries.

  4. Four Theories of the Press • Siebert, Peterson & Schramn (1956) proposed that the press system is divided into four categories: • 1. Authoritarian Theory • 2. Libertarian Theory • 3. Social Responsibility Theory • 4. Soviet-Totalitarian Theory

  5. Normative Theories • The Four theories of the press are the Normative theories i.e . These theories were based on observations and not from hypotheses testing. • The authors (Siebert, Peterson & Schramm, 1956) divided the world’s press into four categories as mentioned above.

  6. 1. Authoritarian Theory • A. DEVELOPMENT: • 16th & 17th century England. Widely adopted and still in practice in many places. • B. PHILOSOPHY: • Philosophy of absolute monarch, his government or both.

  7. 1. Authoritarian Theory • C. MAIN PURPOSE: • To support and advance the policies of the government in power and to serve the state. • D. WHO HAS THE RIIGHT TO USE THE MEDIA: • Whoever get the royal patent or similar permission.

  8. 1. Authoritarian Theory • E. HOW ARE THE MEDIA CONTROLLED? • Government patents , guilds, licensing, sometimes censorship. • F. WHAT IS PROHBITED? • Criticism of the political machinery and officials in power.

  9. 1. Authoritarian Theory • G. OWNERSHIP: • Private or public • H. ESSENTIAL DIFERENCE FROM OTHERS: • Instrument for effecting government policy , through not necessary government owned.

  10. 2. Libertarian Theory • A. DEVELOPMENT: • Adopted by England after 1688 and in the U.S. Influential elsewhere. • B. PHILOSOPHY: • Writing of Milton, Loke, Mill and general philosophy or rationalism and natural rights.

  11. 2. Libertarian Theory • C. MAIN PURPOSE: • To inform, entertain, sell – but chiefly to help discover truth and to check on the government. • D. WHO HAS THE RIIGHT TO USE THE MEDIA: • Anyone with economic means to do so

  12. 2. Libertarian Theory • E. HOW ARE THE MEDIA CONTROLLED? • By ‘self right process of truth’ in ‘free market place of ideas’ and by courts. • F. WHAT IS PROHBITED? • Defamation, obscenity, indecency, wartime sedition

  13. 2. Libertarian Theory • G. OWNERSHIP: • Chiefly private • H. ESSENTIAL DIFERENCE FROM OTHERS: • Instrument for checking on government and meeting other needs of society

  14. Strength & Weakness of Libertarianism • STRENGTH: • Value media freedom. • Values individuals. • Preclude (prevent from happening) government control of media

  15. Strength & Weakness of Libertarianism • WEAKNESS • It is overly optimistic about media willingness to meet responsibilities. • It is overly optimistic about individuals’ ethics and rationality. • Ignores the need for reasonable control of media. • Ignores the dilemmas posed by conflicting freedoms (e.g free press vs personal privacy)

  16. 3. Social Responsibility • A. DEVELOPMENT: • In the U.S. in the 20th century • B. PHILOSOPHY • Writing of W.E. Hocking. Commission on freedom of Press, and practitioners , media codes

  17. 3. Social Responsibility • C. MAIN PURPOSE: • To inform, entertain, sell but chiefly to raise conflict to the plane of discussion. • D. WHO HAS THE RIGHT TO USE THE MEDIA: • Everyone who has something to say

  18. 3. Social Responsibility • E. HOW ARE THE MEDIA CONTROLLED? • Community opinion, consumers action, professional ethics. • F. WHAT IS PROHBITED? • Serious intervention of recognized private rights and vital social interests

  19. 3. Social Responsibility • G. OWNERSHIP: • Private unless government has to take over to ensure public service. • H. ESSENTIAL DIFERENCE FROM OTHERS: • Media must assume obligation of social responsibility and if they do not, someone must see that they do

  20. Strength & Weakness of the Social Responsbility • STRENGTH • Values media responsibility • Value audience responsibility • Limit media intrusion in media operation • Allows reasonable government control of media

  21. Strength & Weakness of the Social Responsbility • Values diversity and pluralism • Aids the ‘powerless’ • Appeals to the best instincts of media practitioners and audience

  22. Strength & Weakness of the Social Responsbility • WEAKNESSES • It is overly optimistic about media willingness to meet responsibility. • It is overly optimistic about individual responsibility. • Underestimate the power of profit motivation & competition. • Legitimizes status quo

  23. 4. Soviet Totalitarian Theory • A. DEVELOPMENT: • In Soviet Union, although some of the same things were done by Nazis & Italians. • B. PHILOSOPHY: • Marxist-Leninist-Stalinist thought, with mixture of Hagel and the 19 century Russian thinking.

  24. 4. Soviet Totalitarian Theory • C. MAIN PURPOSE: • To continue to the success and continuance of the Soviet Socialist System especially that led to the dictatorship of the party. • D. WHO HAS THE RIGHT TO USE THE MEDIA: • Loyal and orthodox party members

  25. 4. Soviet Totalitarian Theory • E. HOW ARE THE MEDIA CONTROLLED? • Surveillance and economic or political action of government • F. WHAT IS PROHBITED? • Criticism of the party objectives as distinguish from tactics

  26. 4. Soviet Totalitarian Theory • G. OWNERSHIP: • Public • H. ESSENTIAL DIFERENCE FROM OTHERS: • State owned and closely controlled media existing solely as arms of eh state.

  27. 5. Democratic–Participant Media Theory • A. DEVELOPMENT: • Democratic–Participant theory reflects public disillusionment with both of its predecessors: Libertarian and Social Responsibility theories, because of their failure to deliver social benefits expected of them.

  28. 5. Democratic–Participant Media Theory • B. PHILOSOPHY: • It reflects public “reaction against the commercialisation and monopolisation of privately owned media and against the centralism and bureaucratisation of public broadcasting institutions

  29. 5. Democratic–Participant Media Theory • C. MAIN PURPOSE: • In the place of monopolisation, it calls for pluralism; • in place of centralism it advocates decentralisation and localism. • It insists that media conglomerates be replaced or at least juxtaposed with small-scale media enterprises.

  30. 5. Democratic–Participant Media Theory • C. MAIN PURPOSE: • It calls for “horizontal” in place of “top-down” communication, a concern for feedback in social-political communication and an • acknowledgement of the feedback so as to realise the “completed communication circuit” • It assumes equality between sender and receiver

  31. 6. Development Media Theory • A. DEVELOPMENT: • This theory seeks to explain the normative behaviour of the press in countries that are conventionally classified together as “developing countries” or “third world countries”. • It, too, is not easy to locate in any particular institution or country, because it encompasses a great variety of fluctuating economic and political conditions

  32. 6. Development Media Theory • Major Tenets: • Media must accept and carry out positive development tasks in line with nationally established policy. • Freedom of the media should be open to economic priorities and development needs of the society. • Media should give priority in their content to the national culture and language(s).

  33. 6. Development Media Theory • Major Tenets: • Media should give priority in news and information to links with other developing countries, which are close geographically, culturally or politically. • Journalists and other media workers have responsibilities as well a freedom in their information gathering and dissemination tasks.

  34. 6. Development Media Theory • Major Tenets: • In the interest of development ends, the state has a right to intervene in, or restrict, media operation; and devices of censorship, subsidy and direct control can be justified.