University of Helsinki 2 - Media and democratization
Dr. Carolina MatosGovernment DepartmentUniversity of EssexE-mail: email@example.comMedia democratization in Brazil and Latin America afterthe 1980sUniversity of Helsinki, Finland
Core readingsHeld, David. 1995. Democracy and the Global Order,Cambridge: Polity Press, 1-23Matos, C. (2012) Media and politics in Latin America:globalization, democracy and identity, London: I.B. TaurisNorris, P. (2004) “Global Political Communications: GoodGovernance, Human Development and Mass Communication” inEsser, Frank and Pfetsch, Barbara (eds.) Comparing PoliticalCommunication: Theories, Cases and Challenges, NY:Cambridge University Press, 115-151Scammell, Margaret and Semetko, Holli (eds). 2000. The Media,Journalism and Democracy, Hants: Dartmouth PublishingCompanyVoltmer, Katrin and Schmitt-Beck, Rudiger (2006) “Newdemocracies without citizens? Mass media and democraticorientations – a four century comparison” in Mass Media andPolitical Communications in New Democracies, London andNew York: Routledge, 199-211
Key pointsMedia and democracy in Latin America in comparativeperspectiveMedia systems and democratic governanceMedia democratization debates revisitedMedia and democracy in the US and UK in comparativeperspectiveDemocratic media and their dutiesComparing media systems: Southern Europe and LatinAmericaMedia and democracy in BrazilChallenges for the further democratization of the media inBrazil
Media and democracy in Latin America in a comparativeperspective Latin American countries have emerged at the dawn of the twenty-firstcentury with a series of challenges to confront, from coming to termswith their authoritarian past to tackling economic and social inequalityand inserting themselves fully in the global economic and politicalorder. Latin America are only just beginning to get to grips with the notion offreedom of speech in the context still for many of these countries ofweak institutions, political confrontation and clashes between differentelite groups and persistent poverty and inequality levels. Brazil is being confronted with a series of problems - among themis the persistence of biased and manipulated information andpoliticization of the media, in contrast to a slow growth in mediadiversity and the availability of more ‘objective’ information due tocommitments established by the mainstream media to balance (Matos,2008).
Media systems and democratic governance As Norris (2004, 1) correctly highlights, media systems can strengthengood governance and promote positive development, especially if thereis a free and independent press which is capable of performing thewatchdog role, holding powerful people to account and acting as acivic forum of debate between competing interests. The 2010 Unesco report, Media development indicators: a frameworkfor assessing media development, underlined the close relationship thatexists between the health, independence and quality of the media withthe development of a country I underscored in my last research (Matos, 2008) how the role of themedia in transitional, or emerging democracies like Brazil can beunderstood as being a complex and even ‘schizophrenic’ process.Throughout the twenty year period that the research focused open,different sectors of the media acted and performed in contradictoryways in different historical moments, and subject to various societal,political and economic influences, pressures and constraints.
Media systems and democratic governance As various academics have nonetheless affirmed (i.e. Raboy, 1995; Voltmer, 2006),the problems facing many media systems in the transition to democracy are oftenthe best example of the problems of democratization more generally. The pressures for wider media democratization in Brazil, and the various difficultiesof implementing a new regulatory framework for the media, are being comparedwith the difficulties in advancing agrarian reform in the nation. What does media democratization involve?: Media democratization involves more than the transformation of media institutions,a freer press and the rise of journalistic professionalism, or even the good intentionsof journalists. At its best, it involves a change of behavior in citizens’ understanding,use and approach to the media. Thus the demands are placed on media systems toprovide better quality information and a commitment to representing politicaldiversity, giving voice to different groups in society and wider attention toprofessional standards.
Media democratization debates revisited• Norris (2004) has argued that there can only be a positiverelationship between democratic governance, humandevelopment and media systems in countries that meet theconditions of an independent press which permits the access topluralistic information to all• Thus, a freer and more independent media and balanced press canonly operate if they are not subject to either political or economicconstraints (i.e. Hallin and Mancini, 2004), and if public servicemedia systems serve the public interest and are not misused...• Last research (2008) showed how large sectors of the media werebiased and susceptible to ideological manipulation, in spite of thegrowth of professionalism and objectivity in the last decades.Partisanship and political constraints have continued to prevail,manifesting themselves during the 2006 and 2010 presidentialelections
Media democratization revisited Political liberalization has thus not been enough to guarantee full mediademocratization. The slow democratization of Brazil during the last threedecades has taken place not altogether disassociated from the authoritarianlegacy that has characterized the core formation of Brazilian society. As Voltmer and Schmitt-Beck (2006) affirm in the context of theirdiscussion of representative survey data of 4 new democracies, Bulgaria,Hungary, Chile and Uruguay, the fact that many citizens in newdemocracies lack the durable party identifications of the more establisheddemocracies makes many vulnerable to media biases. Voltmer (2006) further argues that information quality and the need fororientation is even more significant in new democracies in the context ofthe breakdown of old regimes. Citizens in new or transitional democraciesneed to make sense of information which comes from various sourceswhich are not only closely tied with political orientations… Literature on media democratization (i.e. Voltmer and Schmitt-Beck, 2006;Curran and Myung-Jin, 2000; Sparks, 2007) has stressed how countries asdifferent as South Africa, Chile and China encountered various problemswhen it came to the democratization of political communications.
Democratic media and their duties Multiple systems exist, with no uniform model, although the US liberal model isconsidered the norm of democratic media Basic characteristics of democratic media: 1) independence from the state; 2) diversity of views; 3) press freedom.Duties of democratic media: 1) To exercise the watchdog function and scrutinise governments; 2) Supply accurate and sufficient information; 3) To represent the diversity of the spectrum of public opinion(Siebert, Peterson and Schramm’s Four Theories of the Press is considered a classic in thefield).
Media and Democracy in the UK and US Some problems detected in media systems since the 80’s:1) Public broadcasting in decline versus expansion of commercialbroadcasting2) Deregulation trends since the 80’s saw wider mediaconcentration and proliferation of multi-channel TV3) Rise of television as political influence4) Rise of cynicism and decline of interest in politics
Four dimensions to analyse media systems in NorthEurope and America (in Hallin and Mancini, 2004)Developed further from Blumler and Gurevitch (1975): 1) the development of media markets – emphasis is given here on the strong or weakdevelopment of mass circulation press; 2) political parallelism – the degree and nature of the links between the media andpolitical parties, or the extent that the media system reflects political divisions.Public broadcasting systems and the regulatory agencies have a significantrelationship to politics; 3) the development of journalistic professionalism – refers to norms and codes of thejournalism profession, the tradition of neutrality, impartiality and objectivity againstmilitant and advocacy forms. 4) the degree and nature of state intervention in the media system – the role that the statehas and its relationship to the media, and refers largely to governmental control ormedia independence from the state.
Three Models of Media Systems(Hallin and Mancini, 2000)Mediterranean(Southern Europe)DemocraticCorporatist(Northern Europe)Liberal(North America)Newspaper Low circulation;elite-orientedHigh circulation MediumPolitical parallelism High parallelism;external pluralism;politics/broadcastExternal pluralism;party press; PSBautonomyNeutral commercialpress; internalpluralismProfessionalization Weak journalismpolitical activismnot differentiatedStrongprofessionalization;institutionalised self-regulationStrongprofessionalization; non-institutionalisedRole of the State Strong state intervention Strong stateintervention; strong PSBMarket dominated;weak PSB
Comparing media systems: Southern Europe andLatin America (Hallin and Mancini, 2000) Historical perspectives: State intervention in South America has reinforcedgovernmental power (Waisbord, 2000) But - Market liberalisation and political democratisation have assignednew roles for state (more democratic participatory) and market (liberatingversus oppressive of debate) Similarities between Latin American media systems and SouthernEuropean (Hallin and Papathanassopoulos (2002, 3): 1) the low circulation of newspapers;2) tradition of advocacy reporting;3) instrumentalization (political use) of privately-owned media;4) politicization of broadcasting and regulation;5) limited development of journalism autonomy.
Democracy and the media in South America New approaches to how communications can reshape Latin Americanpolitics (Waisbord, 1995) Recent research (Matos, 2008; Hughes, 2006) has highlighted thecomplexity of the role of the market in the democratization process, howjournalism itself changed and how politicians, civil society representativescan exercise pressure on media systems and how the push for change is acontradictory process. These new studies are not grounded on purelyeconomic positions, but assess the relationship between politicalinstitutions and the ways in which media actors can assist in thedevelopment of democracy. As Voltmer (2006) points out, much of the literature in the comparativeresearch tradition on media systems has deliberated on how informationquality standards have been reworked in communication media after thedictatorships. They have further looked at how political and economicconditions can foster or inhibit the media’s capacity to fulfil theirdemocratic role (i.e. Curran and Park, 2000).
Media and democracy in Latin America (in Matos,2012)Comparative political communication research offers us a set of knowledgethat increases our intellectual sophistication and understanding of thecomplexities of the world and of other cultures.•It forces us not to be narrow-minded, obliging us to deal with other culturesand ideas.* Real, in depth knowledge is all about comparisonTriangulation methodology: online survey with segments of the audience inBrazil in contrast to audience research done by Ofcom in the UK: textualanalysis of programmes from the public and commercial media; interviewswith journalists and policy-makersPSBs in comparative perspective:Public communications in Latin America have traditionally beenappropriated for the individual personal interests of politicians in contrast tothe public service and educational role in UK
Freedom House: Latin America, Western and EasternEurope and Middle EastFreedom House Survey on Press Freedom in 2007 – some clearregional trends:1) Western Europe – declines in Portugal, Malta and Turkey;2) Central and Eastern Europe – Largest region-widesetback (i.e. Russia and Georgia);3) Americas – Mexico decline of three points;4) Improvements in the Middle East and North Africa – thecase of Egypt
Liberty of the press in Brazil and issues of press freedom Although Brazil is now considered as having a relatively independentpress, key studies which have examined the role of the media indemocratization and the nature of the relationship between journalism andgovernment (i.e. Fox, 1998; Waisbord, 2000; Straubhaar, 2001; Skidmore,1993; Matos, 2008) have underscored how the contemporary reality is stillembedded in an authoritarian legacy. Problems of media democratization in Brazil include constraints on themedia independence from both political and economic constraints Regional differences – media in the South of the country is stronger andmore “independent” than news organisations in the North Press law in Brazil (1967) versus current debates on expansion of pressfreedom. According to the Decree no. 83.254 of 1970, during thedictatorship years, only those professionals registered in the LabourMinistry could legally exercise the journalism profession (Moreira andHelal, 2009, 94). In the last years, the necessity of the university diplomahas been subject to heated debate amongst scholars and journalists.
Liberty of the press in Brazil and issues of pressfreedom The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) affirmed in the 1990s that,in spite of the fact that the 1988 Constitution prohibited any restrictionson the press, the old press law, which dates back to 1967 and wasimplemented during the dictatorship years, is still being used in Brazil(Buckman, 1996, 15). In 2010, the country engaged in a series of debates concerning thecreation of a new press law. The Supreme Court of Justice in Brazil suspended most articles of theold Lei de Imprensa (Press Law) in 2009. This included the articles thatestablished penalties for journalists for crimes of defamation, perjury,the right of censorship of plays and public events and the article whichgave government powers to apprehend printed material which offended‘good’ behaviour. Brazil has managed to be taken off the list of the countries which registerimpunity in crimes against journalists, according to the Committee on theProtection of Journalists (CPJ). Brazil reached the 13thplace in 2009
Challenges for the further democratization of the Brazilianmedia: where do we go from here? In spite of a wider adherence to the classic prescriptions of liberal mediatheory and the growth of the media’s role as a Fourth Estate, withjournalists assuming a more confrontational stance towards authorityfollowing the impeachment of former president Collor in 1989, the fact ofthe matter is that the Brazilian media are still politicised institutions. In the context of the fall of the old press law, many Brazilian mediaorganisations defended the adoption of self-regulation and a creation of acode of conduct to regulate journalism practices. There are various problems concerning the strengthening of the publiccommunication platform in the country, including the politicization ofmedia institutions and of broadcasting, hierarchical social relationsbetween Brazil’s different groups based on class, race and regionalism,and exclusion of certain segments of society from the mainstream media’spublic sphere.
Conclusions The democratization of the Brazilian media is still an on-going processtightly connected with improvements in the social and economicinequality levels of the country and with the growth of educationallevels in all sectors of the population The Brazilian media and journalism has lived a turbulent life in the lastthree decades, with multiple journalism cultures proliferating in thenewsroom, from professionalism to a social responsibility ethos Since the re-democratization phase, civil society players, academicsand others have pressured for advancements in media reforms anddemocratization, including the establishment of articles in the BrazilianConstitution of 1988 on the creation of a complex media sector and ofa public media infra-structure Media reform and laws capable of undermining media concentration, awider commitment to transparency in the radio and TV publicconcessions