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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Media and Democracy


Robin Sloan
Well, if you look at the history of democracy, at least in the United States, uh.. the printing press, and uh.. newspapers, things like that, were actually really important. It was the way that a lot of the early, early Americans, our founding fathers, and sort of, the generations after that, all talked to each other. And it was actually something that was very accessible. It wasn't- it wasn't quite the internet, you know, not anyone could just start a newspaper, but a lot of people could, and a lot of people did. It was actually a very democratic medium.

Richard Campbell
A lot of people argue that the- you know, the power of our media and the- the leadership position the United States sustained in media, particularly in the 20th Century, was because we had a commercial model, particularly in television. Uhm.. in which, in many other countries, put their broadcasting inside government, England did that, France put it inside the post office. Imagine if the post office was running television in this country, what might have happened.

Robin Sloan
Something interesting happened in the 20th Century, with the rise of TV. Uhm.. TV, for all of its power and magic, uhm.. and the sort of uh.. the lure of the- you know, the moving images, uh.. TV is actually not a very democratic medium, or it hasn't been, traditionally. If you look at the number of big TV companies in the world, companies that own channels, whether on broadcast TV or cable TV, companies that produce content, there's not that many. And so suddenly, it seems like we've taken a step back from this- from this medium that's actually very

democratic, and very open to something very closed. Uhm.. and something that really rewards the —you know, sort of the- the monopoly control of the media.

Jonathan Adelstein
Well, the internet has survived as an open medium. Nobody's in charge and everybody's in charge. That's the hallmark of the internet, is its openness and its neutrality, that we want to maintain. I don't think that requires regulation per se, but it requires that there be certain rules of the road that we maintain openness, that there be freedom for people to use whatever applications they want, to download whatever applications they want, and to be able to do things that are legal on the internet. This is a

cornerstone of the internet up until now. The concern is that large media companies, the very ones that dominate the landscape for old media will also take over the new media and find ways to become gatekeepers and try to throttle the freedom of expression over the internet in order to expand their own revenues.

Jamal Dajani
Well, in the Middle East, you don't have uh.. you don't have the coverage — uh.. I mean, of the internet like we have in the United States. It's really uh.. rel- related to the economy. So wealthy states, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, they have uhm.. good coverage. Uh.. But when you start talking about some countries in northern Africa, and- and other poorer uh.. areas, uhm.. I don't think you can find even uhm.. a broadb — band, I mean, I- I do

believe that this is something that- that everyone should have in the future. But that what brings me back to the power of satellite television, and- and the power of satellite digital television on democracy. What happen, and- and this is what's going to happen through the internet, because they work uhm.. similar, you know, whether you put that- that piece of information on the air through satellite, or- or through- or through uh.. the DLS lines. Borders has

disappeared in the Middle East, to give you an example, because of satellite television. So someone that's sitting in Morocco can watch what's going on in Cairo, or another story that's going on in uh.. in Lebanon, and they do not have to rely on their own uh.. television stations or local newspapers.

Jonathan Adelstein
That, I think is something that is anathema to everybody who believes in the future of the internet, who believes in it as a free and open platform for expression, for commerce, for having uh.. the types of communication that we couldn't have even have imagined when I was going to college. I mean, we used to have to uh.. have the mail, and the newspaper would come in, and you had broadcast, but we couldn't have dreamed of- of e-mail and instant communications and vast amounts of data that are available anywhere

in the country. Could be used for learning, it can be used for healthcare, it can be used for commerce, for democracy itself.

#### End of the media and 
  • Description:Tracing the history of media's role in democracy from newspapers and television to the Internet.

  • Featured Writer(s):
    Sloan, Robin
    Campbell, Richard
    Adelstein, Jonathan
    Dajani, Jamal

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