Democracy is a freedom to do what we want, to think and speak what we want, to go where we want. Democracy gives freedom of speech, thought, expression, and movement. In a democratic society, people have equal legal rights. There is no discrimination according to religion, beliefs, color, political views or sex. In such a society media and press are free, democratic, being able to cover all stories and mistakes of the government. Free media as a tool used to deliver information are a key component of a democratic society.
In the age of globalization, media play a vital role in referencing. Access to information is paramount for the democratic society because it ensures that people make informed and responsible choices. Moreover, democratic rule helps citizens check whether elected representatives uphold their promises. Therefore, democratization and the media while having a leading role in society are constituted by each other. The mode of media control defines the role of media in a society. Joseph Man Chan identifies four modes of state-press relationships, which are based on a mixture of inducements and constraints in media control, which are laissez faire, repression, incorporation and co-optation. Depending on prevailing power distribution mode and contexts, media can have both negative and positive functions in regard to democracy. Restructuring of power may shift modes of media roles and media control.
Democratic media, being a free one, can have a negative impact on the society in general. Democratization is defined as a political struggle within and among social-political forces and the ruling elites; therefore, it causes desire to seek the media endorsement to strengthen their positions and this may lead to corruption. The government has to sort out what can be published creating rumors that can be even worse.
The democratic media environment causes the situation in which media giants may disappear because the Internet is open to all. They may be replayed by diverse, wide-open, fast-changing and competitive media culture. Digital communication has promoted consolidation by disrupting traditional distinctions between television, telecommunication, press, and computer software. In the result, in the 1990s, almost all media giants entered into joint ventures with larger telecom and software companies.
In modern society, people pay too much attention to themselves. They are somewhere in their own world which is called the Web. It constitutes friends as it is not necessary to go out to have a talk with them, as we are not talking any more but rather typing, and the whole ‘notion of media is now much more democratic’. Traditional radio and television is vanishing, as people may hear all they want online and watch your favorite films, even download them. Print media are becoming history, as it is possible to read any news, articles and advertising on the Web. Online video and television advertising has become part of the advertising campaign; music and radio may be heard anywhere, at any time and from any device be it Apple iTune or Sportify.
Traditional print magazines and newspapers have been challenged by online versions and blogs, including fashion and food blogs, or such categories as technology, science, politics, entertainment, which are accepted as a mainstream challenge for news and events. It is believed that print media are gradually going to be supplanted by online editions. This happens at least in the markets where print newspapers and magazines have been suffering a decline in sales and revenue. It is suggested that print media will disappear by 2014 and I find this fact frightening.
The value of books is being lessened because, in most cases, people rely on the Internet. The example here may be students, who spent hours sitting in the libraries preparing reports, research works or doing home tasks. They think that it is a faster way to get information as they do not have to spend a lot of time on finding the book and borrowing it. The problem, which arises in this situation, is plagiarism. It is extremely easy to get someone’s work and steal the idea, as the Internet is prodigious and it is difficult to check whether the idea is the original one. The problem is that, in a democratic society, there is a lot of information that is to be known. However, the problem is that ‘millions of Americanshave come to regard the act of reading a daily newspaper - on paper - as something akin to being dragged by their parents to Colonial Williamsburg’. At the same time, the reality is that electronic texts could never have as many benefits as offered by print media, such as durability, readability, portability, affordability.
Democratization gives people the right to express their thoughts and ideas. In case you have any problems, or just have to say anything, write it in your blog, and you will get hundreds of comments. In the past, people had diaries, which were hidden from strangers’ eyes; nowadays, they are easily shared and even printed serving topics for public discussion. One can never be sure that blogging is not a hoax, despite cases when you know personalities who feature it. One more disadvantage is that bloggers are immediately held accountable for their reports and quotes. If a blog writer reveals any secret information, it is picked up by the press immediately and becomes evident to the public. It has also led to the fact that things, which were considered to be taboo in the past, are usually discussed thing in blogs, public places, via mobile phone or chat. There exists no taboo nowadays as all subjects can be discussed. It should be done in a tasteful manner. Examples of such taboo topics (they were considered to be taboo in the previous century) are money, or sex, relationship, religion etc. Intimacies are ‘posted daily for all those who care to make the emotional investment’. At the same time, our privacy has disappeared. For an example, if we post a picture on the internet or put any valuable information online, we can never be sure whether it is stolen, or credit card used to buy anything. It has become dangerous to out information online.
In modern society, it is possible or even common, to consume only that information which you want to hear or see. There are television networks that agree with you and have the same ideas, iPods that play the music you know and like, or Internet programs that filter out the news you wish to hear or watch, the music you like etc.
The rise of networked communication is astonishing. The consequences are incalculable because they are unknown. Changes in communication have no foreseeable end. This uncertainty should not keep us away from thinking about the outcomes. Mark Thompson names some of them.
First, the communications structures, which are trendy today, are in most cases networks with unlimited extensibility. Second, public life requires publicity. It has become harder to sustain closed structures. Shape and meaning of collaboration and competition constantly undergo changes. Third, mass market, which is dead, poses an enormous challenge on organizations that require reaching the mass audience. Fourth, there is no scarcity of information as it is more and more abundant. The forms and genres of information preparation and delivery are altered. Fifth, these developments have obvious democratic character. People have access to various kinds of media content, which have various sources.
Digital media that are one of the constituent parts of democratic media can be considered as a disadvantage to society, particularly to the older generation, which is used to print press. Traditional print media are converging with new media, in order to respond to the threatening challenge. For example, The Telegraph now offers a free website, phone application, which may be downloaded, opportunities to blog communication, etc. It may be appealing to advanced audience only, as not all are capable to adapt to innovative advancements so quickly. Such innovations may have detrimental effects on the customers and, as a result, loses their interest, which may lead to the inevitable profit losses by the institution.
Thus, democratization has to do with authoritarian government, which moves towards a free and open society. When the term is used in regard to the media, it means an escape from a traditional media, such as record companies, radio, books, newspapers, magazines, film studios etc., towards a creative environment provided by web technology where content if free, easily available and based on one’s likes and dislikes. Living in a democratic society, we have a large variety of media among them mobile phone, email, Internet, online video, satellite radio, tablets, iTunes, podcasts, blogs etc. A single smart phone may offer a platform where one can view videos, news, television, radio, magazines, and weather.
To my mind, democratization cannot realistically be applied to information. It is a variety of danger to humanity, the danger that ‘just might be that we miss the next great book or the next great idea or that we fail to meet the next great challenge’.