Democratic journalism and “statelessness”

Waisbord. S. (2007). Democratic journalism and “statelessness”. Political Communication. 24. 115-129. 

The starting premise of this article is that democratic journalism, no matter its specifics, is not viable as long as states are unable to perform key functions that cannot be delegated to other actors. For journalism, an intrusive state is as problematic as a tenuous, chaotic, and absent state. This point has not been sufficiently recognized and investigated in the literature on the current expansion and consolidation of a democratic press worldwide. “Statelessness,” a condition particularly affecting large swaths of the global South, deters the prospects for the affirmation of journalism that anchors democratic life. State absence facilitates anti-press violence, undermines the economic basis for news organizations, and weakens the rule of law. It remains unclear whether the press, an institution that has historically played key roles in building and renovating national identities and mediating civic engagement, can also make significant contributions to strengthening effective and democratic states. The article concludes by suggesting ways in which the press supports state-building processes. It is argued that although journalism as civic institution alone cannot address entrenched problems of violence, security, and lawlessness, it contributes to state-building through monitoring state actions, raising attention to problems, and identifying effective accountability mechanisms.

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