normative theory

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This presentation discuss how Normative Theory is used to explain the phenomena of mass media.


  • 1. Presented by: Roddena Kirksey Ariel Foreman Holley Quick
  • 2.
    • Professionalism, a crusade to clean up the media and make it respectable and credible, followed the era of yellow journalism; its objective was to eliminate shoddy and irresponsible content.
    • Media professionals and social elites used normative theory to answer questions regarding media reform. Social responsibility is the normative theory used in the United States.
    • Social responsibility theory
    Overview Notes:______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  • 3.
    • Two opposing viewpoints
      • Radical libertarians (First Amendment absolutists) & Technocratic Control
        • First Amendment absolutists take the idea of free press as literal and oppose government regulation.
        • Technocrats do not trust the media and believes in the use of regulators to act in the public interest.
        • Propaganda and mass society theories are used to justify media regulation.
    The Origins of Normative Theories of Media Notes:________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  • 4.
    • Libertarian theory opposes authoritarian theory, which requires all forms of communication to submit to governing elites.
    • If freed from authoritarian rule individuals would naturally follow their conscience, seek truth, engage in public debate, and create better life for themselves and others.
    • John Milton asserted in fair debate good and truthful arguments would always win out over lies and deceit, the self-righting principle. The self-righting principle is fundamental within social responsibility theory.
    • The founding fathers also subscribed to liberal thought.
    • Three fundamental concepts underpinning the founders belief in press freedom:
      • Theology
      • Individual rights
      • Attainment of truth
      • At the nations founding, the US was one of the first nations to adopt Libertarian principles lined out in the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights.
      • Restrictions on communication:
        • Libel
        • Gag Orders
        • Regulations prohibiting false advertising, child pornography, and offensive language.
        • Laws have been written to restrict communication freedom so that other seemingly equally important rights might be guaranteed.
    The Origin of Libertarian Thought
  • 5.
    • Notes:________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
    • The Rise of penny press and yellow journalism.
      • Progressive and populist movements
      • In response against Progressives and Populist, media practitioners solution was known as Marketplace of Ideas.
      • Marketplace Ideas: The Notion that idea should be put before the public & the public will choose the best marketplace (Baran & Davis, pg104)
        • Laissez-faire doctrine
        • How the marketplace of ideas work (communication process)
          • Sender + Idea + medium + receiver
          • |__________________________|
          • Feedback
  • 6. Marketplace-of-Ideas Theory
    • Strengths
      • Limits government control.
      • Allows natural fluctuations in tastes, ideals, and discourse.
      • Puts trust in the audience
      • Assumes good content will ultimately prevail
    • Weakness
      • Mistakenly equates media content with more tangible consumer products
      • Puts too much trust in profit-motivated
      • Ignores the fact that contents is intentionally brought is often accompanied by other, sometimes unwanted content
      • Has an overly optimistic view of audiences media consumption skills.
      • Mistakenly assumes audiences-not advertiser-is consumer.
      • Definition of good is not universal.
  • 7.
    • Notes:__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
    • Populist and progressive politicians argument against yellow journalism.
    • Establishment of government commissions to oversee their operation.
      • FRC (Federal Radio Commission)
      • FCC (Federal Communications Commission)
  • 8.
    • Notes:__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
    • A call for professionalism in media
      • Professional schools
      • The Canons of Journalism
      • Watchdog
        • Muckrackers
        • Fourth Estate
    • Limitations have been placed on media professionals but the following problems have occurred:
      • 1. Professionals in every field, including journalism, have been reluctant to identify and censure colleagues who violate professional standards.
      • 2. Professional standards can be overly abstract and ambiguous
      • 3. In contrast with medicine and law, media professionalization doesnt include standards for professional training and Licensing.
      • 4. In contrast with other professions, media practitioners tend to have less independent control their work.
      • 5. In the media industries, violation of professional standards rarely has immediate, directly observable consequences.
  • 9.
    • Throughout WWII and during the anti-communist agitation that followed, there was pressure for greater government regulation of media.
    • The Hutchins Commission on Freedom of the Press was established in 1942. Members consisted of leaders from many areas of society, including academics, politicians, and heads of social groups.
      • The members where divided in 2 views:
        • Libertarian views
        • View that some form of press regulation was necessary
    • Chicago School
      • Envisioned modern cities as Great Communities composed of hundreds of small groups
    • Pluralistic Groups
      • In a Great Community, the various segments defined by specific unifyin


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