Mediacracy: definition — A system in which politicians (government) stop thinking and begin listening exclusively to the media regarding what the important issues are and what they should do about them.
In an editorial entitled “The New Mediacracy: A Threat to Democracy“, Paul Kurtz back in 1998 wrote: “Citizens of our democracy should be concerned about increasing trend toward media concentration.
This applies to television, cable, and radio networks, movie studios, newspaper chains, magazines, and book publishers. Democracy presupposes a free market of ideas. The concentration of the media in fewer hands has narrowed the opportunity for citizens to express alternative points of view. In point of fact, media conglomerates have emerged as the most powerful voice in society — and we have become a mediacracy”.
More recently Kurtz in article “Is America a Post-democratic Society? – How to Preserve our Republic” explained in more depth how the concept of a free press relates to democracy and how media consolidation threatens that freedom. Kurtz writes: “The central principle upon which liberal democratic society rests is arguably its dependence on a free market of ideas. John Stuart Mill argued that a democratic society encourages the free exchange of ideas.
John Dewey held that the method of pooled intelligence enables the public to make reflective judgments. Karl Popper extolled the open society” “This concept had some meaning at a time when individual citizens could speak out on a soapbox at Hyde Park or Union Square or distribute pamphlets and leaflets on street corners, when many voices could be heard in the town hall, and every major city published several newspapers.”
“Today, public square has been inundated by mass communications media… In the media, too, we see again the influence of mega-corporate domination. Today, there are fewer and fewer large players: Mega-corporations dominate television and radio, and they own most of the cable networks and movie production studios.”
“The principal danger in this is a worrisome shift in the focus of programming. Media mega-corporations are interested first and foremost in profits; hence, they produce media programs in terms of their marketability. The criterion is what will sell, not what is true. Entertainment outmatches information and education.
Inevitably, diversity in ideas and values dries up, and the parameters of the open, free, and democratic society are constrained. I am not overlooking the role of the Internet, which we all use. Once the ‘Net’ was hailed as an anarchic domain of free expression; I suspect that a limited number of main players will come to dominate this medium as well.”
In the article “The Reign of the Mediacracy” by David Solway writes: In the article “Capturing the Culture” by Richard Grenier he writes: “Most members of today’s U.S. media are citizens of the world with no demonstrable loyalty to the country which assures them of safety and freedom.”
As a former correspondent for the New York Times and a columnist for the Washington Times, Grenier should know. In pushing what is decidedly an “accommodationist” or “internationalist” approach the media have, by and large, become the greatest enablers of historical ignorance and misperception in the contemporary world clearing houses for tilted analyses.
But the media also practice another, time-honored form of subterfuge, namely, omission. In an article for The Quarterly Journal of Economics entitled “A Measure of Media Bias,” Tim Groseclose and Jeffrey Milyo conducted a quantifiable analysis of how media prejudice scribbles the news, estimating that for every sin of commission, “there are hundreds, and maybe thousands, of sins of omission—cases where a journalist chooses facts or stories that only one side of the political spectrum is likely to mention.” In the concluding statements to their 47 page study, the authors find “a systematic tendency for the United States media outlets to slant the news to the left (or right),” in which the tactic of omission figures prominently…
More often than not, expressions of opinion, even in the more reputable organs, are presented as apodictic but without credible and well-researched evidence. Just as often, the news is staged or slanted in such a way that intentional fraud cannot be objectively distinguished from subjective bias which, being under the radar is considerably more damaging in its effects upon public credulity. A standard technique employed in such productions is what we might call a species of malign synecdoche (one small part standing for the whole) abnormal factor in a multifaceted situation made to seem equivalent to an entire context…
The trouble is that most of us have little time to dig for reliable information on our own initiative: confining us to above-the-fold newspaper reports… Others, regrettably, have little inclination to demystify ideas that have become sanctified by inertia and a certain illusory comfort—the comfort of a supposedly manageable and rational world that conforms to the dictionary of received opinions. Machiavelli was sadly correct when he observed in “The Prince” that “the great majority of mankind are satisfied with appearances, as though they were realities, and are often more influenced by things that seem, than by those that are.”
In the blog “What is Mediacracy?” by mrianwolf writes: It is my belief that the media is the most powerful organisation in the world – even more powerful than politicians and governments. It is also my belief that the people must do all they can to ensure that the media is fair and just in the way it rules. There are many ways in which it can be seen that the media is ruling aspects of the world. For example, supposing a politician wanted to increase taxes. That politician cannot contact everyone in order to tell them this, and not everyone in the world will be interested, so the politician has to go through the media to get as many people as possible to hear the message.
However, it is possible for the media to twist the message around to suit their own political agenda. If they support or oppose the tax, they could write biased stories supporting their view and encourage the public to either fight against the tax rise or to give their backing to it. It is also possible that the media may pander to their readers and report the story in such a way to please them, rather than acting in an unbiased fashion and report the news straight.
This results in the creation of a “hyperreality”, which is hypothetical situation in which it is very difficult to tell which parts are true and which parts are false. Today’s mass media follow their own, usually business interests, which in societies of mass consumption can be the most effective only if they appeal to mediocrity. The mediocracy and the mediacracy thus have much more in common than the fact the spelling of the two words is almost identical.
In the article “We Are Living in a Mediacracy!” by Gabriel Garnica writes: “We The People” has become “flee the people”. We live in a split personality society with two realities. A very common complaint about the present media is the increasingly blurred relationship between entertainment and information. The term “infotainment” merely reminds us of a curious puzzle. Are we so transfixed on entertaining that we now must entertain while informing thus diluting and corrupting the information until someday we have someone dressed as a chicken delivering political news?
On the other hand, are we actually so steeped in the concocted importance of the superficial so as to believe that what Britney is doing this weekend matters at all? I fear that this blurred distortion and corruption of information at the service of entertainment is merely one of the angles of “flee the people”. Who cares what people really think when you can sell them what they should think with slick neon images and pathetic hype? Long ago marketing experts realized that it is easier to brainwash the consumer into believing that what you are selling is what she really needs instead of what you are ready and willing to sell.
The fact that politics has become a form of entertainment is an increasingly important phenomenon in the rise of populism in modern democracies. In order for the media to sell political events and developments as one of their products, the politics must be able to entertain. A populist politician is aware of this fact: he or she will say what the audience wants to hear, rather than trying to convince the audience that his or her opinions, although unpopular at the moment, make sense.
But even populist politicians face some risks in relying on the supposed majority opinions, as represented by the media, as it is increasingly more difficult to distinguish between the situations in which the media objectively represent the majority public and the situations in which the media substitute their own agenda for what they claim is the opinion of the public. Democracy is, indeed, in danger of being replaced by mediacracy or, to be more specific, telecracy, and modern technologies.
In particular new media…the amalgamation of traditional media such as film, images, music, spoken and written word, with the interactive power of computer and communications technology, computer-enabled consumer devices and most important the Internet. There are many promises related to the term. For example, new media holds out a possibility of on-demand access to content any time, anywhere, on any digital device, as well as interactive user feedback, creative participation and community formation around the media content.
Another important promise is the “democratization” of the creation, publishing, distribution and consumption of media content. Most technologies described as “new media” are digital, often having characteristics of being manipulated, networkable, dense, compressible, and interactive. Some examples may be the Internet, websites, computer multimedia, computer games…
New media does not include television programs, feature films, magazines, books, or paper-based publications – unless they contain technologies that enable digital interactivity. Consequently it has been the contention of scholars that new media, and particularly the Internet, provide the potential for a democratic postmodern public sphere, in which citizens can participate in well informed, non-hierarchical debate pertaining to their social structures.
Contradicting these positive appraisals of the potential social impacts of new media are other scholars who have suggested that the transition to new media has seen a handful of powerful transnational telecommunications corporations who achieve a level of global influence which was hitherto unimaginable.
In the article “The Mediacrary” by Sam Smith writes: The basic rules of good journalism are fairly simple: tell the story right, tell it well and, in the words of the late New Yorker editor, Harold Ross, “if you can’t be funny, be interesting.” Journalism (whether through traditional media or new media) is to thought and understanding as the indictment is to the trial; as the hypothesis is to the truth; as the estimate is to the audit. It is the first cry for help, the hand groping for the light switch in the dark, the returns before the outlying precincts have been heard from.
Serve not as an expert but rather in a more modest and constructive role of being the surrogate eyes and ears of the reader. Consider yourself a guide who has traveled this trail several times before and thus might remember where the clean water is to be found, the names of some of the rarer plants and possibly even a shortcut home… Help citizens tell their government what to think instead of helping government tell the people what to think… Serve your readers, not your sources…
The greatest power of the mass media is the power to ignore. The worst thing about this power is that you may not even know you’re using it. Contrary to the view of many editors, most people still like finding out who, what, when, where, why and how … more than just hearing, in the first sentence, that it affected Jane Doe, 46, of Oshkosh. News is something that has happened, something that is happening, or something that is going to happen. News is not what someone said about what is happening, nor what someone perceived was going to happen, nor what the editors thought the impact of something happening would be on its readership.
What you have, for a lack of a better word, is Mediacracy, a word that could be defined as “rule by the media”. Your decision on who to vote for every 2 years is determined by commercials on TV, editorials, and other media output….you are not an independent thinker; you just think you are…
“Whoever controls the media, controls the mind” ~Jim Morrison