Javnost - The Public, Vol. 16 - 2009, No. 3
Raising an Alternative Voice - Assessing the Role and Value of the Global Alternative News Agency Inter Press Service
Inter Press Service (IPS) is widely considered to be distinctly diff erent from the conventional news agency. Research on this alternative news agency has mainly focused on the IPS news to underwrite this statement, but much less attention has been paid to the broader production context. Drawing on the findings of twenty-six semi-structured in-depth interviews, this article explores the value and role of IPS in the digital news market of the 21st century as perceived by staff members, stakeholders and independent scholars. In general, interviewees argue that IPS and its news copy are a useful and necessary addition to mainstream news media, as well as a crucial source of information and a partner for the global civil society. However, the study also indicates that IPS will need to face a number of professional, organisational and financial challenges if the news agency aspires to continue its unique role of sensitising the public and bridging the information gap between North and South.
This article examines the relation between global space and citizenship by examining the cases of WTO meeting and Hong Kong Disneyland. Scholars assert that global space can unsettle naturalised social relations. Yet, an ambiguous and vague sense of citizenship and a neoliberal spatiotemporal frame constrain how the state, the media, and the locals interpret the meanings of space, and how citizenship is manifested in space. In the global space of the WTO meeting and the Hong Kong Disneyland, the Hong Kong Chinese identity is reinforced by demonising South Korean farmers and mainland Chinese.
Arguing into the Digital Void? On the Position of Online Debates in the Local Public Spheres of Four Norwegian Municipalities
With the advent of the Internet, numerous online debate options have been created, giving citizens new arenas of political communication where space for expression is nearly unlimited. However, if online forums shall invigorate the public debate, the arguments published online must reach outside their initial setting. In this article, the position of newspaper-hosted online forums is studied and compared to the position of letters to the editor in the local public spheres of four Norwegian municipalities. The forums’ visibility to the public and the degree to which they are paid attention to by other media and by local politicians are used as indicators of their position. Only onetenth of the citizens regularly read the online forums, and when referred to in other media or in politics, they have an agenda-reinforcing rather than an agenda-expanding role. The greatest challenges to the online forums’ position seem to be the audiences’ perceptions of the quality of the discussion, along with the vast amount of contributions which makes them reader unfriendly.
While the histories of opinion polling and the news media have been closely intertwined ever since the invention of polling, the question as to whether the media’s reporting on opinion polls should be considered as detrimental or beneficial from a democratic perspective is still open and contested. The purpose of this paper is thus to investigate the publication of opinion polls in the Swedish media during the last three election campaigns, with a focus on how the media used opinion polls and whether or not the media, at the end of the day, mainly used opinion polls to give voice to the people – or to the media and the journalists themselves. Among other things, the results suggest that more often than not, polls serve as vox media rather than vox populi.
The Public or Parties in the Media? A Study of Public, Party and Media Issue Agendas in Five Danish Election Campaigns
As the media plays a central role in the way modern democracies function, it is important to study whether the media engages in a top-down or a bottom-up mode of covering election news. The article studies whether the media agenda is congruent with the parties’ and the public’s agenda by analysing the three gendas in five national Danish election campaigns. Theoretically, increased professionalisation of politicians’ efforts to influence media coverage suggests convergence between the media and the party agendas, while increased commercialisation of the media suggests convergence between the media and the public agendas. However, since both the professionalisation of the parties and the commercialisation of the media are ongoing processes, convergence between all three agendas may be expected. Results show that the media agenda is slightly more similar to the agenda of the parties, but in general the media seems to be rather good at balancing their obligations to represent the issues of the elite on the one hand and to give voice to public concerns on the other. During the past two decades no convergence between the agendas is found, i.e. the interaction of the three different agendas is rather stable.