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The Development of Democracy and Media

The Development of Democracy and Media

There has always been a link between the development of democracy and media. Democratic countries normally provide more opportunities for sharing information about political processes, office-holders and politicians. Authoritarian and emerging democracies have established censorship strategies to control the information flow through media. However, Internet accelerated the development of appropriate political beliefs in emerging democracies and improved freedom of speech. Whereas Stromback focuses on new standards for journalism depending on the model of democracy, Gans as well as Nisbet, Stoycheff, and Pearce analyze what media and Internet can make for democracy.


The Stromback’s article (2005, p.337) discusses the requirements for journalism in different models of democracy. First, the author identified four types of democracies, such as procedural, competitive, participatory and deliberate. While comparing different democracies, Jesper Stromback focuses on two major aspects. The first is concerned with the ways of keeping common good in society. Thus, procedural democracy employs free and fair elections to secure common good. Competitive democracy utilizes the mechanism of competitive elections. Participatory democracy secures the common good through the participation of citizens in public life. Moreover, citizens act even outside political parties. Deliberative democracy relies on deliberative discussions among all elements of the public and their delegates. The second aspect is expectations of citizens. Individuals living in procedural democracies expect everyone to follow democratic procedures. Citizens living in competitive democracies expect easy-to-understand views about societal issues as well as knowledge about political parties and people that have or had power. Citizens from participatory democracies are interested in politics and participate in public life, so they need to know the mechanisms, which influence the public life and opinions on current societal issues. Citizens from deliberate democracy are interested in politics and often participate in discussions. They are ready to change their opinions and find consensus.

Stromback (2005, p. 341) indentified demands for media based on characteristics of democracies and expectations of citizens. In particular, journalists working in procedural democracies need to be like watchdogs and inform the public about any violations of democratic procedures. Similarly, media in competitive democratises should take the role of watchdogs but concentrate on politicians and political platforms. Journalists working in participatory democracy have to mobilize citizens’ engagement in political life, offer opinions on societal issues and solutions as well as connect people and make them active subjects in politics. Finally, media from deliberative democracy should increase involvement of citizens in discussions, and connect participants of discussions.

The article of Stromback is accurate and precise; particularly the author offers a deep analysis of different models of democracies and their implications for journalism. However, even the researcher accepts that the article dismisses a few perspectives. For example, Stromback did not study the demands of different types of media. The researcher talks about media in general. Besides, the article does not address cultural differences. By and large, it would be reasonable to compare expectations of journalism in diffrent counties with various models of democracy.

Herbert J. Gans (2013) also offers the demands for media today. Unlike Stromback, Gans focuses on the needs of American democracy. He says that it is time to review the functions of journalism. Nowadays, media normally informs citizens about the events related to top officials. This approach is not correct because it does not address the needs of democracy. For example, journalists should analyze current political processes in the country. Instead of reporting about the events, media share analytical stories to develop democracy in their country. The ideas of Gans resemble Stromback’s findings about different functions of media in different democracies. When the USA had procedural or competitive democracies, it was enough to inform about any violations in democratic procedures or report about political actors and political parties. However, democracy has changed in the U.S. People are interested in political life and want to participate in public discussions. Therefore, they are interested not only in information but also in analyses of the main issues.

In addition, Herbert J. Gans (2013) offers five recommendations that can help journalism serve democracy. For example, the researcher advises journalists to analyze what they have done for democracy in the past and how they will develop it in the future. Media should also expand their political coverage and move to analytical journalism. Besides, Gans (2013) gives useful guidelines on how to incorporate his suggestions into practice. For example, he recommends how frequently the news on democracy should appear, where journalists should locate them and where they could get money for these information pieces.

In general, the article lacks statistical data and supportive information from other researches, but the author’s ideas appear to be objective and convincing. On the contrary, Gans agrees that his suggestions are idealistic and not original but they help restart debate on the ways in which journalism can assist democracy. The article’s main goal is to attract the attention of readers to the issue and make them think. Additional scientific data would increase trustworthiness of Gan’s informational piece, but it was not essential for reaching the main objective of the article.

Nisbet, Stoycheff, and Pearce (2012) analyzed how Internet use affects citizens’ commitment to democratic regime in their country. The researchers studied twenty-eight countries in Asia and Africa, and found that countries with greater Internet use had a higher commitment to democracy. Such effects could be explained by the absence of free media in Asian and African counties. Therefore, the Internet performs certain functions of traditional media. For example, it mobilizes citizens and increases their interest and participation in public life. Internet also highlights political beliefs necessary for democratic societies (Nisbet, Stoycheff & Pearce 2012, p.263).

The ideas of Nisbet, Stoycheff, and Pearce are similar to the findings of the previous researchers. Both Stromback and Gans concluded that media have to perform a range of functions to develop democracy. However, the researchers covered different aspects of the issue. Stromback (2005) analysed the demands for media in different models of democracies, while Herbert J. Gans (2013) concentrated on expectations for media in U.S democracy, and Nisbet, Stoycheff, and Pearce studied the ffunctions of the Internet in “authoritarian and emerging democracies” (2012, p. 260).

Overall, the article of Nisbet, Stoycheff, and Pearce provides evidence of a high quality. However, there are two limitations to the research. First, the study relies only on survey data. Second, the research analyzes the participants from Asian and African countries and does not cover other regions, such as Latin America and the Middle East (Nisbet, Stoycheff & Pearce 2012, p.260). Studying the influence of Internet use on developing democracy in other regions would allow making conclusions that are more convincing.

All three articles demonstrate that media is very important for democracy. Moreover, it has different effects in countries where democracy just started to develop and in countries with long history of democracy. In particular, the article about functions of media in the USA and the article about the influence of Internet use unveil that media is still a valuable instrument for mobilizing citizens and increasing their engagement in the public life. At the same time, the findings of Nisbet, Stoycheff, and Pearce demonstrate that the Internet can be more influential than print media or television in authoritarian and emerging democracies. In my opinion, Internet is more powerful there because this source has more freedom than other instruments. Normally, undemocratic governments significantly restrict the freedom of speech; therefore, media has limited rights and suffers from censorship. Journalists can only present the information that does not contradict the office-holders, people with power and political parties. Therefore, media cannot help democracy develop. However, the situation is not hopeless due to presence of the Internet. Citizens can find diverse information about political processes in their countries, read about respect or disrespect to democratic procedures, start public discussions or receive knowledge about societal issues. Citizens can even find some analytical stories about political process in their countries.

On the other hand, it would be correct to state that the same standards for print media, television and Internet apply. Internet contains varied data. Sometimes, the presented information is not based on any facts. Journalists from newspapers or TV channels face higher expectations. Thus, they have to present reliable information about the political events, personalities or processes. Besides, Nisbet, Stoycheff, and Pearce did not specify for what specifically people use the Internet. For example, some of the respondents use the Internet for socializing with their friends in social media or watching movies.


In conclusion, the authors of the articles study the requirements for media in different democracies. Thus, Stromback focuses on what citizens expect from journalism in procedural, competitive, participatory and deliberative democracies. Gans restarted a discussion on how media can help democracy in the U.S. Despite long history of democracy in the country, it still needs support of media. For example, Gans suggests journalists to not only inform citizens about top officials and key events but also create analytical stories about political processes happening in the country. Nisbet, Stoycheff, and Pearce researched the influence of Internet use on people’s commitment to democracy. They found that countries with higher Internet use have more chances to become democratic.


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