The quality of a democracy depends basically on the way how the society communicates, which means how the process of forming an opinion is carried out. The mass media are playing an essential role when forming an opinion in a democracy. The word mass media includes all technical methods if multiplication and dissemination which produce the process of mass communication. This means in detail institutions like the press, radio and television. And for most people these are the main sources of social information. Therefore the media shall inform and create an quite exact image/copy of reality. But when we observe today’s media, especially the yellow press we might come to the view that they carry some events to far and not very realistic.
The notion of press freedom developed as a principle during the wave of democracy of the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Some fundamental points are regulated through the basic constitutional law, that everyone has the right to express his opinion in public as long as it doesn’t offend against the regulations for protection of the youth and the personal honour. Moreover has everyone the right to make a correction if something wrong was told. The philosophy behind that is that information about different opinions will or want to help us to find the truth. It guaranties control and correction because there is a mutual process of arguments and counterarguments.
So we could ask if the mass media is the forth authority or do they only have the task to control? Maybe they are only a catalyst of interests. We could describe the public forming of an opinion as a theatre in which the media is writing or maybe directing the play. But on the other hand we could say that they only perform the role as an stage owner who rents his stage for big money to interesting actors.
A good example for this point of view is the BILD-Zeitung. Who don’t know the famous and at the same time notorious Bildzeitung. It doesn’t matter who you ask everyone knows this newspaper. They are working with big letters and much pictures. The publishing in such a way is founded in America. They are the pioneer of screaming and scare bannerlines. The headlines are designed with strong statements in an emotional background. Everything is personalized. In a more and more technical world they search for something personal and on the other hand they don’t’ have to read so much because the information is already filtered in short articles. They want to attract the reader with emotional, scaring or shocking headlines or pictures. The more effect it has on the reader, the better it is.
The actors in that play are public figures, athletes and politicians. The one who brings the highest circulation gets the biggest part of the side and it doesn’t matter if they destroy/ruin a life as long as they sell their newspaper. And one important factor is almost not decisive: the truth. The behaviour of the media during the war in Iraq is frightened. They swamped us with information which were faked. They showed us scenes in which they bombed a city, but it was only an unoccupied house somewhere in the desert.
Therefore the question comes up, when do we know that it’s the truth, that it’s real. Can we discover it at all?? And who are the persons which remove the stitches I don’t know and I fear we will never know… When looking back in the history the main goal of communication is the understanding of every single individual. Through the development into the days of the internet , it is getting more and more difficult to reach a consensus within the society.
The globalization of the communication increases the alienation of everyone’s as well as the communication determines everyone’s life. As a single person it is quite impossible to influence the global stream of communication or to keep them under control. Especially when we hear what occurs in Italy, it might bring us to the opinion that even though we would like to change something we haven’t the power to do so.
Because while some European lawmakers fret about Silvio Berlusconi’s conflict of interests, his government is pushing through legislation which will allow his business empire to take an even bigger chunk of Italy’s media. Berlusconi effectively controls 90 % of the Italian TV market via his family interests in private broadcaster Mediaset and his influence over state-broadcaster RAI in his capacity as Premier. His family holding company Fininvest controls the nation’s largest publishing company Mondadori and its biggest film distributor, Medusa, while his brother Paolo runs one of the country’s most widely sold newspaper, Il Giornale.
Other family interests include an indirect stake in Telecom Italia and a host of other interests. The size of Mr Berlusconi’s grip on business and political power prompted protests from left-wing members of the European Parliament last week when the Premier outlined Italy’s plans for its presidency of the European Union. For the Berlusconis, expansion into other media areas is banned at present, but if the media bill becomes law, there will be no limit to the number of media any firm can own. So who can defend against such a development?
It’s an objective fact that for example parties try to have an influence on the media. Some people say that the institutions of the mass media are important to contemporary politics. But do they keep this opinion if this is all handled through one person? In the West elections increasingly focus around television, with the emphasis on spin and marketing. Democratic politics places emphasis on the mass media as a site for democratic demand and the formation of ‘public opinion’. The media are seen to empower citizens, and subject government to restraint and redress.
Yet the media are not just neutral observers but are political actors themselves. Contrasting with this is a liberal tradition which sees the mass media as essential to the development of democracy. The mass media is seen, in this view, as helping to secure rights of citizenship by disseminating information and a pluralism of views. By this process ‘public opinion’ forms and influences government. The media are seen as essential to the operation of a public sphere of open debate. The press constituted a public sphere in which an open political debate could take place. But this is a fallacy if politicians control/manage the media.