How much democracy does journalism need?
Faculty of Education and Arts
School of Communication and Arts / Centre for Research in Entertainment, Arts, Technology, Education and Communications
In posing the question 'How much democracy does journalism need?', much depends on the definition of journalism. This article suggests that journalism should be viewed not in terms of media systems but instead using journalism practice as the main frame of reference, as this allows for an appreciation of journalism beyond the confines of western democratic countries. The analysis of historical and current examples shows that journalism offering accurate and verified information resting on independent news judgement also happens in places that are deemed semi- or non-democratic. This article argues that it is not the political form of democracy that is essential to journalism but the freedom of expression and relative journalistic autonomy afforded to media workers. Democracies, as compellingly shown in recent years, may offer the legal framework for freedom of speech but they do not offer protection for journalistic services which have to be largely financed privately. The dependency on media owners is no less in many democratic nations than it is in non-democratic countries. Most importantly, journalism needs supporters who see value in independent information provision and credible news judgement.