Panel I: The Future of the Political Economy of Press Freedom
9 Comm. L. & Pol’y 97 (2014)
Posted: 25 Aug 2017
Date Written: January 16, 2014
Freedom of expression and press freedom are influenced by economic and power arrangements in society and the information age is not altering that fundamental principle. The social, economic, and technical changes underlying information society are altering some existing structural arrangements and are redistributing power, but they are not eliminating systemic organization and control. These changes are affecting freedoms in different parts of communication processes and systems, making necessary new understanding and approaches to promoting and ensuring freedom.
The organization of media and communication systems and markets, their relations with the state and elites, the presence of dominant content producers and providers, the choices of content provided, the consumers to whom content is directed, and how it is delivered are all being affected by the fundamental changes in society. These are increasingly shifting the mechanism of control and influence over media from public to private spheres, reducing the ability of the public to influence it through democratically determined policy, and making public oversight of media and communication systems and operations more difficult.
Media systems and their content and the degree of freedom of expression and freedom of the press are reflections of dominant cultural elements in society. The concepts, as well as the language of freedom of expression and press freedom, emerged in response to historical structural arrangements dominated by the state and became a fundamental component of the democratic revolutions. They were primarily designed to provide protection against state impediments to citizens’ expression, to permit challenges to state authority, and to break state-sanctioned monopolies on distribution of information. As time passed, the mass media model of communication in Western nations emerged partly because of those freedoms and because of the technological changes provided by the Industrial Revolution and economic changes in society created by wage earning and continual employment.
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