Diversity and Rights. Connecting Media Reform and Public Service Media
Mediated communication is at a “critical juncture” (McChesney 2007): At a moment in history when old models, structures, and values are being challenged, and even changed, by intertwined commercial, political, and technological developments. The current juncture entails global phenomena such as polarized news coverage, rampant hate speech, fake news and viral misinformation, breaking down of old business models of quality journalism, decreasing freedom of expression in general but increasing role of intermediaries such as search engines and social media platforms to provide access and direct content to audiences, as well as related “filter bubbles” (Pariser 2011) of media consumption, to name a few. These widely documented and discussed examples of trends in the media landscape have implications to democratic ideals of the 20th century. We may be merely at the beginning of many of those implications -- and they do not look promising in terms of media and journalism as harbingers of democracy.
Media reform as a concept has generally been linked to these kinds of critical junctures and to attempts to address them (McChesney 2016). As a movement, media reform is based on the idea of democratizing the media, specifically to the attempts by civil society actors, and other not-for-profit organizations, to work towards this goal (e.g., Hackett & Carroll 2006). The concept is ever-evolving. Some of that work has been about transforming entire media systems (e.g., Price et al., 2000), other about securing community radio licenses (Sassaman & Tridish 2016), some about global internet freedom issues (Franklin 2016), about media literacy and journalistic training (Townsen 2016), or about looking at public service in the context of changing television landscape (Goldsmiths 2016).
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