Monday, 16 January 2012

Normative Theory- Press Theory

Normative Theory  
This theory explain the expected operation of media under the prevailing set of political and economical circumstances.There are six normative theories . In 1950 Siebert et al mentioned four theories, two more were added by Mc Quail in 1980.

According to Authoritrian Theory, Press is subordinated to the state power.  It acts   according to the interest of ruling class or the state power or by an established authority.  In this view, all media and public communication are subject to the supervision of the ruling authority and expression or opinion which might undermine the established social and political order can be forbidden. Although this `theory' break rights of freedom of expression, it can be invoked under extreme conditions. It also give justification for the censorship and control and punishment for any kind of deviation from set of rules and guidelines.  Such censorship is more rigidly enforced in times of war and during internal and external emergencies.

Eg in case of Srilanka 4th Eelam war, and in 1975 Indira Gandhi government imposed censorship of press in The Emergency. It was removed at the end of the Emergency rule.
Both dictatorial and democratic regimes alternative to such authoritarian control of the media.
Also some documentaries and movies baned  by Indian Govt.
Eg. Dam 999 movie baned in Tamilnadu , In 2002, the film War and Peace, depicting scenes of nuclear testing and the September 11, 2001 attacks, created by Anand Patwardhan,  In 1999 Maharashtra government banned the Marathi play 'Me Nathuram Godse Boltoy" or 'I am Nathuram Godse Speaking"

Key points
1.      This theory works bases on quality of information and culture available the public.
2.      Adequate support for the democratic and political system
3.      Respect for individual and general human rights.
4.      Avoiding harm and offence to society and individuals.

2.Free Press Theory
Free press theory (most fully developed in the United States of America, proclaims complete freedom of public expression and of economic operation of the media and rejects any interference by government in any aspect of the press. A well- functioning market should resolve all issues of media obligation and social need. The fundamental right of an individual freedom of expression  or libertarianism make a base of this theory. It also called liberation theory. This theory recommend that any individual is free to punish whatever he likes, can held opinions fully to express them, to assemble and organize with other.
This theory basis is go back to 17 th century. The epic poet John Milton and John Stuart Mill are the apologists of this theory.  It is contrast with authoritarian theory.
It is the only fully respected theory of the press has been the free press theory.
According to this theory  a free press is seen  essential to a free society and dignity of  the individual. Freedom of the press was closely linked with the idea of  freedom of the individual and with liberal and utilitarian political philosophy.
This theory protects media  owners rather  than  the rights of editors and journalists, or of the public. The theory offers in sum is power without social responsibility


  1. •Values media freedom
  2. •Is consistent with U.S media traditions
  3. •Values individuals
  4. •prevents government control of media

•It overly optimistic about media’s willingness to meet responsibilities
  1. •It is overly optimistic about  individuals ethcs and rationality
  2. •Ignore dilemmas posed by conflicting freedoms for example free press versus personal privacy

Social Responsibility Theory
This theory has been derived from Hutchins Report in 1947.
According to this theory ,  the press has work  as the information sound and normal needs of the society. Social responsibility theory found more in Europe and countries under European influence is a modified version of free press theory placing greater emphasis upon the accountability of the media  to society. The theory  based on the assumption  that media sense the essential function of society in truth, accuracy, objectivity, and balance.

The commission found that the free market approach to press freedom had not yet met the informational and social need of the society and possibilities for reform. The theory view that the press had certain obligation to society and ownership is a public trust.

The finding of the  report contributed to subsequent theorizing and practice of accountability.
A responsible press should provide a full, truthful, comprehensive and intelligent account  of the days’ events in a context which giving them meaning.
It should serve as a forum for the exchange of comment and criticism
The press should give a representative picture of constituent groups in society. The media have obligations to society; The media should follow agreed codes of ethics and professional conduct.
It involved a view of media ownership as a form of public trust or stewardship.
Social responsibility should be reached by self-control, not government intervention. This theory  holds that the government must not merely allow freedom, it must actively promote it. The government should act to protect the freedom of its citizens. The public interest was a greater value than unregulated freedom of expression. Under some circumstances government may need to intervene to safeguard the public interest.
Advantage of this theory


It advocate media freedom
Plurality of Ownership
Diversity of information
Support for maintaining public order and security of the state
Quality of cultural provision
Meeting international obligations
Appeal to the best instincts of media people and audience
It is consistent with U.S legal tradition
Respecting the rights of individuals
Overly optimistic about media and individual  willingness  to meet responsibility
Underestimates power of profit, motivation and competition

3.      Soviet Media Theory/ Communist media Theory

 It is derived from Lenin’s application of Marx and Engels. According to this theory media are the mental production of ideology.
Through the communist party media  projected the interest of working class rather than elite people.
As per this theory media is a tool to socialize the people such that educate, inform, motivate, and mobilize the citizens
The public will encouraged to provide feedback.
Censorship and restrictions on the media are legitimate for the media.
Media are accountable to the state.
4.      Development media theory (applying in countries at lower levels of economic development and with limited resources) takes various forms but essentially proposes that media freedom, while desirable, should be subordinated (of necessity) to the requirements of economic, social and political development.

5.      Alternative media theory. From a social critical perspective the dominant media of the established society are likely to be inadequate by definition in respect of many groups in society and too much under the control of the state and other authorities or elites. This type of theory favours media that are close to the grass-roots of society, small-scale, participative, active and non-commercial. Their role is to speak for and to the social out-groups and also to keep radical criticism alive.