More public and less experts : a normative framework for re-connecting the civic work of journalists with the civic work of citizens

Oelofsen, Heiletha (2010-12)

Thesis (MPhil (Journalism))--University of Stellenbosch, 2010.

Bibliography

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT:In a system of representative government, the media is assumed as an important institution to reflect public concerns and holding government accountable for the way in which it addresses these public concerns. Not only is this role imposed by a paradigm which views the media as one of the institutions that sustain and consolidate liberal democracy – the so-called fourth estate alongside the legislative, executive and judicial pillars – but the media itself has conceptualised its identity around the notion that journalists are a “vital part of political life” (Sparks, 1991:58). This study explores the validity of this authority. It suggests that the authority of the media to frame public concerns in a way that is useful for ordinary citizens to “bridge the gap between the private, domestic world and the concerns and activities of the wider society (McQuail, 2005:432)” has been eroded because citizens feel that their concerns and priorities have become secondary to the priorities of powerful state, economic and other “experts” who determine the news agenda. At the same time, there is a general sense that representative government or what is generally known as liberal democracy is losing its currency because citizens have developed a “habit of seeing the political system as indifferent and unresponsive” to their problems and their circumstances (Mathews, 1999:33). This study explores the potential of a more productive relationship between the media and citizens to rekindle and energise the role of citizens to contribute to the public work of solving common problems that face the wider society. This study proposes three theoretical frameworks – democratic professionalism, public journalism and deliberative democracy – with the potential to re-conceptualise the way journalists consider their professional role. This re-conceptualisation raises the possibility for reassessing the political work of journalists and the political work of citizens and build new habits of participation and discussion in the political process of communities.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: In 'n stelsel van verteenwoordigende regering, word die media veronderstel as 'n belangrike instelling om publieke kwessies te weërspieël en die regering verantwoordelik te hou vir die wyse waarop dit hierdie publieke kwessies aanspreek. Hierdie rol word veronderstel in 'n denkraamwerk wat die media beskou as een van die instellings wat liberale demokrasie konsolideer as die sogenaamde “vierde pilaar” neffens die wetgewende, uitvoerende en geregtelike gesag. Die role word verder deur die media self gekonseptualiseer as ‘n identiteit rondom die idee dat joernaliste 'n "belangrike deel is van die politieke lewe" (Sparks, 1991:58). Hierdie studie ondersoek die geldigheid van hierdie gesag. Die studie dui daarop dat die media gesag het wat die moontlikheid bied om publieke kwessies aan te spreek op 'n manier wat van nut kan wees vir gewone burgers om die kloof tussen die private, huishoudelike wêreld en die sorg en die aktiwiteite van die breër gemeenskap te oorbrug (McQuail, 2005:432). Die gesag word ondermyn omdat gewone burgers voel hulle belange en prioriteite word sekondêr geag aan die magsbelang van die staat en ander "kenners" wat die nuus agenda bepaal. Terselfdertyd is daar 'n algemene persepsie dat verteenwoordigende die regering, of wat algemeen bekend staan as liberale demokrasie, geldigheid verloor omdat burgers voel dat die politieke stelsel onverskillig reageer op die probleme wat hulle ervaar. Hierdie studie ondersoek die potensiaal van 'n meer werkbare verhouding tussen die media en die burgery om die energie wat burgers in die openbare sfeer kan bydra te ontgin. Hierdie studie stel drie teoretiese raamwerke voor – demokratiese professionaliteit, openbare joernalistiek en beraadslagende demokrasie – wat moontlikhede bied om opnuut oor die professionele rol van joernaliste te besin. Hierdie “besinning” bied weer nuwe moontlikhede vir die politieke werk van joernaliste en die politieke werk van die burgery. Dit veronderstel nuwe gewoontes van deelname en gesprek in openbare politieke proses.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/5195
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