“Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations.” – George Orwell
It’s a pretty awesome statement capturing a lot of feels people have towards media and journalism today. (P.S the dude pictured above is not George Orwell – it’s David Strathairn playing Edward R. Murrow in Good Night, and Good Luck – top film)
So what’s this have to do with political economy? Well firstly, political economists look at journalism with an unnerving eye – examining it through economic and political pressures as well as thriving, capitalist power structures. Today, they also consider the role played by your average Joe. The phrase ‘citizen journalism’ gets thrown around more carelessly than Bachie’s undying love, but what exactly is it?
“When the people formally known as the audience employ the press tools in their possession to inform one another that’s citizen journalism”
Now, if you study or have studied communications you’ll be well familiar with the name I’m about to chuck into the mix. Before you scream “OMG GLOB DO NOT SAY GRUNIG!!!” Take a deep breath, relax. I wouldn’t do that to you : )
He thinks that the mass media play a crucial role in contributing to liberal democracy because it disseminates information and enables people to talk about things that matter. But most liberal democracies are also capitalist societies and this has an obvious influence on media and journalism. Habermas (like me and other political economists) thinks that concentrated media ownership messes up civic participation as does the “intertwining of economic and political power” (cheers Flew & Liu).
You could say that new technology, likes blog platforms, gave life to citizen journalism which was ultimately driven by the public’s frustration with mainstream media and dodgy ethics. Creating our own content using new media is an attempt to smash the power structures.
But does citizen journalism really shift the balance of power?
In my next post I’ll be exploring some examples but I’d love to know your initial thoughts. Let the discussion begin!!