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Essay about Democracy and Media Ownership

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The press has historically hoisted accountability upon the people in power; it spread new ideas that allowed the repressed and controlled to realize freedom, and has continually been a bringer of transparency in government. American democracy was a direct result of the press; printers used the press to unify the country under propaganda of a single enemy. Yet, the traditional press is being commercialized, corporatized, and increasingly bent to the will of a select few. Meanwhile, a new press is rising from the disparity and demand of the citizenry.
In the first chapter of Legal Principles and Analytic Framework, Dr. Mark Cooper, a specialist in how telecommunications shape social issues, discusses how media ownership influences the press in American democracy. Primarily, he makes a case for why diversification of players is necessary for a functional democracy, and why concentrated media leads to concentrated points of view, which is inherently miasmal to democratic function. More specifically, he focuses on the Supreme Court's opinion of media ownership, which has consistently found media outlets to be a service of the democracy by way of its citizenry.
For example, Cooper quotes Supreme Court Justice, Hugo Black, as saying that the First Amendment, and its inherent protection for the press' ability to spread information quickly, especially dissentient views, was necessary for the commonweal (Cooper 34). In this context, it stands to reason that having a decentralized press mirrors this country's self-limiting of political power through branches of government that abstract political control to the local level (state's rights). Therefore, just as dispersed government control facilitates localized accountability, fractured me...


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...e at which public discourse is already occurring, through online communities and wikis, will only grow. That is, the worst fears of people like Cooper and Radford will never be realized, because the sentiments of people like Cooper and Radford have found their way into the consciousness of a large enough subset of the citizenry.

Works Cited
Cooper, Mark. "A Bold Aspiration For the First Amendment." Media Ownership and Democracy in the Digital Age. Palo Alto: Center for Internet & Society, Stanford Law School, 2003.
"Guantanamo operating manual posted on Internet," Reuters 17 Nov 2007. 10 Mar 2009
News War: What's Happening to the News. Prods. Stephen Talbod and Cowell Bergman. PBS. Frontline. WGBH Educationsal Foundation, 2007.
Radford, Benjamin. Media Mythmakers. New York: Prometheus Books, 2003.


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