The term media theory refers to a model that explains the
relationship between media and social
reality. Media as an enterprise holds a unique status – from one way it is
like an industry which gives its
products and service and earn money but from another way media is supposed
to talk about society, people,
attitude, interaction, guidance and the most crucial and sensitive,
The criticism media does-on individuals, business sector and the
governments, pinches many in many ways.
If media does not perform this function, it is rendered redundant.
How media is seen, controlled and dealt with, will be outlined in the
following paragraphs through the study
of four distinct theories which generally command on media behaviour and its
outlook in different societies.
Long before the democratic societies could think of matters pertaining to
freedom of speech, there
existed a thought that the emergence of media should not challenge the writ
of the government which were
more in dictatorial form and less they looked like democracies. The media
was forced to remain under state
control. It had following features which, in non democratic governments
still rule on media.
• Direct governmental control of the media.
• Typical to pre-democratic societies, where the government consists
of a very limited and small
• No printing that could undermine the established authority
• No offense to existing political set up
• The government may punish anyone who questions the state's
• Media professionals are not allowed to have any independence within
the media organization.
• Registration of the media by the state.
This approach is designed to protect the established social order, setting
clear limits to media freedom and
ensure that it is not the media which must talk about people and their
problems in any manner.
This is just in contrast to the authoritarian approach to media. Here media
enjoys an absolute freedom
of expression. Its prominent features go like this:
• Competitive exposure of alternative viewpoints.
• Attacks on the government's policies are accepted and even
encouraged: the media as a watchdog
• Journalists and media professionals ought to have full autonomy
within the media organization.
• There is no explicit connection between the government and the
• The press is free from censorship
• It is accountable to the law for any consequences of its activities
that infringe other individuals’
rights or the legitimate claims of the society.
• The protection of dignity, reputation, property, privacy, moral
development of individuals, groups,
minorities, evens the security of the state no infringement accepted from
Such an extensive freedom is also a problem as all people have the right to
speak and receive information
freely, but no one takes responsibility of the wrong doings. The ethics in
multicultural or pluralistic societies
vary from place to place; hence there is always complaint against the media
of each other’s society.
With the revolution in Russia in 1917, and practice of Marxism, there
appeared a very different
approach to deal with media. The media was tied to overall communist ideas
and defined in a very different
way. The theory to control media possessed following features:
• Closely tied to the communist ideology.
• The media is collective agitator, propagandist and educator in the
building of communism.
• No private ownership of the media.
• The government is superior to the media institutions.
• The media is supposed to be serious
The soviet theory does not favor free expression, but proposes a positive
role for the media, the society and
Social Responsibility Theory
This theory keeps certain areas free for the Press but at the same time puts
lot of responsibility on
media. As discussed in the beginning that the media is not just seen as an
enterprise like others in the
business sector of any society, but due to its unique nature, society
expects a particular role which media
must play in getting rid of social evils, educating people, criticizing
government policies and exposing other
wrong doings in a society. The sense of responsibility has been emphasized
more in this theory as compared
to any other.
• Media has certain obligations to society:
• It must show truth, accuracy, objectivity, and balance
• The media should be free but self-regulated (codes of conduct, and
• The media is pluralistic: diversity of society, various points of
view, forum for ideas
• The media ownership is a public trust. The journalist is
accountable to his audience / readers.
Theories and open debate on media
Not confined to the extent of theories, the media always faces (and is open
to) criticism and social
scientists always keep this debate open as how best media could be used to
improve functioning of civil
society and promotion of democratic sense and practices.
In their view If people's knowledge, understandings, capabilities, and
actions are manufactured, it
simultaneously follows that they can be developed, improved, and
individualized in proper (idealdemocratic)
Among these circumstances, proper communication networks are inevitable.
Because of new developments, the relationship among the state, private
sectors, markets, and civil society
profoundly changed during the 1980s.
In politically and economically advanced societies the change is based on
new information and
telecommunications technologies, which affected the media industries in
terms of economic restructuring,
and on a new social and political environment, as reflected by media
A basic question is: Who gave media the right to do the things they do?
Like to investigate wrongdoings by public officials, to delve into the
private lives of public figures and to
report on the shortcomings of government and institutions are all forms of
the criticism media face all over
Purpose of talking on this topic is to make people linked with mass media to
understand the relationship
between media and society and how the media is understood by the scholars in