A Normative Theory of Mass Media That Contributes to Social Communication

Monday, 16 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Ijung LIN, Osaka University of Economics, Japan
In the information we have, that which we directly experience and obtain is limited. Other people and the mass media provide information exceeding this scope. How people imagine society and the world varies according to differences in the information they possess. From this perspective, the images of society and the world depicted by people were surprisingly different in the past, when the mass media provided information characterized by a certain degree of homogeneity compared to that provided in the Internet era. Likely, this significantly impacts the current democratic society, which is premised on people engaging in discussion and taking action based on information. This is vividly illustrated in the recent Brexit vote in the UK and presidential election process in the US.

 It has long been argued that the mass media has a social responsibility. Much research on how this social responsibility should be fulfilled and its nature has been conducted, and there has been some practical action in this regard. The most well known is the social responsibility theory encompassed within the four theories of the press by Siebert et al. Based on this theory, a range of subsequent research has been conducted on the roles and norms of the mass media. However, societal transformations due to conditions in the mass media and globalization were outside the scope of the assumptions in traditional mass media normative theory.

 First, this research points out the problematic nature of such preconditions. Next, we consider the emerging position and role of the mass media by taking alternatives for these from theories on the freedom of expression and political thought to construct a mass media normative theory that contributes to social communication and is aligned to modern society.