Exam date

When's the 2016 exam? Wednesday 8th June, am.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Press, Fourth estate, Freedom, Democracy: Paris murders

I was just reading through a recent post which included this bullet point:
  • even though many press arguments on press regulation are self-serving nonsense, this is an important point that should not be dismissed! 'Freedom of the press' is a basic of democratic norms
The link between the media and democracy, which the scandalous behaviour of the press has rather obscured even while editors and owners condemned any enforced regulation as undemocratic, has been a leitmotif, or meme (recurring theme), within much of the coverage of the Paris murders of a left-wing magazine's staff.

RIP Charlie Hebdo workers.

The examples I'll give below are all from the press, but this has been the dominant discourse of TV coverage too, with the many protests that sprang up seeking to demonstrate support for a free media as much as opposition to 'terrorist' killings.

As difficult as the routine inaccuracy, sensationalism, bias, arrogant, dumbed-down tabloidised approach of newspapers may make it, you should not discount the importance of the argument that a free press/media are central to any functioning democracy. What should also be considered, though, is whether a deregulated, free market in ownership (and content to a degree) is compatible with this lofty notion.

There is another issue here - given the fuss over 'lads mags' like Zoo and Nuts, with newsagents now forced to put these on top shelves in part-covered packaging, protection of children being the familiar justification, should newspapers put graphic news images on the front page? Is this compatible with protection of children from unsuitable content? Does the need to inform/freedom of speech outweigh this? Does it matter if we're talking about a broadsheet or a tabloid?

The Times put an unpixellated shot of the dead policeman on its front; the others pixellated it, and The Guardian, in its gallery of front pages (see below), noted that they had re-pixellated this.

Below the line are further front pages from the Telegraph, Guardian and Times - this was a consensus view that crossed the left-right divide.

You can view a gallery, including international front pages, at The Guardian (they often do this).

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