Different Roles of News Media

Watchdog

In certain countries, mostly democratic systems, the press is seen primarily as a force to check the abuse of power, empowered to criticise and expose wrong-doing. Reporting on the conduct of government, journalists evaluate and shine the light on the manner by which elected officials provide service and fulfil the mandate to protect public welfare.

Set the Public Agenda

Another role involves promoting public awareness about challenges that can pose serious problems for everyone. Examples are the work of environmental journalists who called attention to deforestation and sole erosion, to the limited scope of reclamation to development of real estate values, including climate change and global warming. Other social problems are closer to concerns of ordinary citizens, such as decline in educational systems and the the low capacity of public health services.

Gatekeepers

The gatekeeping function in a sense operates the marketplace of ideas, making known the diverse interests of the public or community so that other members not so inclined can understand the “others” who belong to the whole of society. These include political parties, groups, movements and various other forces at work who altogether can be brought together into the fold of a common and shared vision of themselves.

Or such gatekeeping can also close the minds as some ideas, images, groups of people are presented in a negative way and are thus marginalized in different ways.

Creating a Public Forum

In a democracy, the public forum must serve as a marketplace of ideas, accommodate the expression of many voices and diverse beliefs; enabling members of society who may not even know each other to share in the discussion of issues and ideas, perhaps find more sharing their own ideas, communicating as it were through the media or the press.

The responsible journalist, or thought leaders, will enable the journalist community to review how the press is functioning to fulfil these roles. The different sectors in the press should ideally see themselves as working together to provide a common ground or framework of understanding the diverse ideas, even if these are in opposition or contradictory.   

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