The Media And Its Traditional Functions
The media is not always seen as the monster that critical theorists may portray it as. Traditionally, the media has been seen as an important part of keeping government accountable by providing the citizenry with information about their politicians and their policies. Timothy Cook, a media theorist, argues that “news making is now a central way for governmental actors to accomplish political and policy goals” by disseminating information to the public. (605)
However, the media also works as a watchdog for political actors, disseminating information that could hurt political objectives or actors if they do not maintain their mandated course of action. Media has been seen as required for democracy because, as in Habermasian terms, it creates a public sphere, for which public discourse may occur surrounding politics and political activities. In today’s age of new media however, there almost seems to be too many public spheres being created by online users. In their article Boundaries Blurred: The Mass Media and Politics in a Hyper-Media Age, Jonathan Rose and Simon Kiss suggest that, “despite the explosion in the production of information, there is evidence that citizens are no better informed.” (606)The authors go on to explain that this is the case in politics, not because society is unable to use the technology but because society lacks the basic general knowledge of politics required to use the multitude of public spheres open to them.