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A Complicated Relationship: Right-Wing Populism, Media Representation and Journalism Theory

Kai Hafez | PDF-Fulltext

Abstract: The current upswing of right-wing populism in the United States and in Europe is a challenge not only for policy makers, but also for journalism theory. If and how to report on right-wing politicians, movements and issues is a delicate question that various strands of theory answer differently. Functionalist systems theory is in favor of large-scale coverage due to the stimulating news values of populist debates, although the precise character of the political integration remains unclear. In contrast, rational democratic deliberation theory is to be interpreted as a complete rebuttal of the irrational character of populism. The argument here would be that we must not allow the media be dominated by irrational debates. At the same time, democratic media theory is all but uniform in dealing with the phenomenon. While traditional rational public sphere theory is clearly anti-populist, paradoxically left-liberal and postmodern public sphere theory, anti-elitist and radically post-modern as it is, can be used as an argument for better representation of marginalized voices, including right-wing populists.

The Western Way? Democracy and the Media Assistance Model

Daire Higgins | PDF-Fulltext

Abstract: International media assistance took off during a time where the ideological extremes of USA vs. USSR were set to disappear. Following the Cold War, international relations focused on democracy building, and nurturing independent media was embraced as a key part of this strategy. Fukayama called it the ‘End of History’, the fact that all other ideologies had fallen and Western style democracy was set to become the one common ideology. The US and UK led the way in media assistance, with their liberal ideas of a free press, bolstered by free market capitalism. America was the superpower, and forged the way around the globe with its beacon of democracy. Under that guiding light they would bring truth, accuracy, freedom of expression and independent reporting to the countries which had so long lived under the shadow of communism, or authoritarian media systems. This is what propelled and justified American foreign policy, and their media assistance, for many years. Much work was thus carried out in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet satellites, but many now question the impact and legacy of these projects. When the US and UK spoke of media assistance they seemed to mean ‘free market’. These days, the ‘democracy promoters’ focus has turned more to Africa and the Middle East. The ideology is apparently the same: to help establish and support democracy with a stronger and more independent media. But with western economies, and their media systems, in crisis, the relevance of this media assistance model is questioned. This essay looks at the history of media assistance and the ongoing debate on the impact of media assistance over the long term, its motives and the new balance of power appearing in international media development.

Living with Control, Working with Control: Reflections of Israeli Journalists

Miglė Bareikytė, Ingo Dachwitz, Lu Yang | PDF-Fulltext

Abstract: In this paper, liberal democracy is problematized by examining one paradox inherent to its conceptualization and practice: the possibility for those elected in to power to call out the state of exception, thereby implementing mechanisms of control through the system of law. At the same time, our assumption is that people are not only controlled by instruments of the state, but also by their self-imposed control and built-in processes of socialization and adaption. Thus we conceptualize a theoretical framework where the use of big words like “democracy” and “freedom” is changed into the analysis of external and internal control mechanisms in a democracy based on the idea of sovereignty.
To combine this theoretical groundwork with empirical practice, we conducted qualitative interviews with Israeli journalists. In doing so, we wanted to analyze their reflections on what could be considered the potential control of a professional group of media practitioners whose role it is to expose the misuse of power, and act as a watchdog in a democratic society. Israel is used as an intensified example, because it is a liberal democracy where the state of emergency has endured for over fifty years. This has affected its media landscape through control mechanisms, such as media censorship or gag orders. The reflections of these Israeli journalists did pave the way for our explorative research to question the extent of “freedom” in any democracy that is based on the idea of sovereignty and focus on the mechanisms which limit and control their actions.

Researching Media Assistance as a Tool of Democratisation and State building in Post Conflict Societies– Lessons from the Case of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Nidzara Ahmetasevic | PDF-Fulltext

Abstract: This paper aims to give insights into my research on media assistance and its effects on democratisation and state building processes in Bosnia and Herzegovina (Bosnia). I try to analyse a process which lasts more than 15 years, and includes different aspects, from law making to establishing new media. I argue that most of the measures have been carried out in a state of imposition, in a semi-protectorate, that is Bosnia after the war. This period of post-war reconstruction in Bosnia is difficult to research for many reasons, starting from the obvious fact that processes are still going on, to the fact that different international players who were involved in the process over the years, hardly left archives available to the public to be analyzed, or what is left sometimes does not give a complete picture. I will present different methods I have applied in order to overcome these difficulties, and try to give some recommendations for other researchers working under on similar topics.

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