Javnost - The Public, Vol. 16 - 2009, No. 4
This essay examines and extends peace journalism’s critique of mainstream news media in order to articulate a model of an enriched news narrative resistant to war propaganda and consistent with democratic praxis. It discusses the potential of political myth to delimit demonising projections that otherwise debilitate democratic deliberation and suggests that news media would advance democratic culture by enhancing the public archive on which deliberative practices depend. Critical attention is focused on two factors that reduce the democratic potential of news narratives: (1) the persistent omission of key information and (2) a chronic imbalance in interpretive frames. Whether or not professional conventions and market considerations render corporate media incapable of correcting truncated and unbalanced news narratives, the capacity of the public archive to support democratic deliberation corresponds to the knowledge and perspective it accrues to curtail alienating projections. We must ask, then, if democracy’s deliberative prospect can be realised short of correcting the shortcomings of news media.
The term “public relations” (PR) has long gained currency as meaning the practice of producing a positive public image. This article argues that public relations should be released from the prison of “PR” and, instead, reconceptualised as relations which define the public realm much as economic relations define the economy. From this point of view, three main levels of public relations can be distinguished: (1) relations between public institutions, (2) relations between citizens and public institutions, and (3) relations between single citizens who communicate as strangers. Relations on the last level are qualifi ed as “basic public relations” because they are the simplest, reproduce at all levels, do not need institutional mediation, and are the nucleus of all political roles and meanings. Freeing the term “public relations” from its restricted usage to mean “relations in public” makes it possible to discover the common roots of political institutions and the public sphere and to explore the innate kinship between politics and all other segments of public life. The overall eff ect is a re-conceptualising of politics as quintessentially stemming from public relations and of democracy as the very essence of politics.
This article investigates the cross-national prevalence of fi ve news frames in quality papers’ coverage of the Treaty of Lisbon (EU Constitution). Three frames were identifi ed in earlier studies: economic consequences, confl ict, and human interest. Two additional frames were identifi ed and composed: power and nationalisation. During the seven-month period leading up to the signing of the Treaty of Lisbon (December 2007), we analysed 341 articles from four quality papers: Le Monde (France), De Volkskrant (The Netherlands), De Standaard (Dutch speaking community of Belgium), and Le Soir (French speaking community of Belgium). Our results show that although signifi cant differences between newspapers were found in the amount of framing, overall they refl ected a similar pattern in the adoption of the news frames. The economic consequences frame, followed by the power frame, appeared most prominently in all of the newspapers’ coverage. However, the confl ict and nationalisation frames recurred in a signifi cantly lesser degree. These fi ndings indicate that the meaning behind the EU Constitution as a symbol of supranational unity could have led to a shift from a domesticated, confl ict oriented coverage as found in previous studies to a more unifi ed portrayal of the EU within and between the quality papers under study.
This article seeks to understand how and why we fi nd local NGOs performing a role as alternative science communicators in the social confl ict concerning agricultural biotechnology. First, a literature review points out that in the face of modernisation risks techno-scientifi c development has become contradictory, an evolution exemplifi ed as well as driven by interdisciplinary antagonisms. This creates opportunities for a scientifi cally supported public critique of science and technology by new social movements. In addition, the commercialisation of science has brought forward a “science-industrial complex” united by economic interests in the promotion of biotechnology on the one hand, and has contributed to a practice of science communication using the logic of public relations and corporate communication on the other. Once institutional science communication becomes hard to distinguish from corporate communication, NGOs are found to contest and reframe scientifi c knowledge by aiming at instigating epistemic shifts in institutionalised scientifi c conceptions and discursive changes in the social values underlying science. Second, I report on the fi ndings of six in-depth interviews with spokespersons for these NGOs, the aim being to achieve an understanding of how these NGOs make sense of their encounters with science in the GM debate and how they situate themselves in their role as alternative science communicators. Finally, I conclude by making some recommendations for journalism in general and science journalism in particular.
As in many other European countries, the Finnish political public sphere has been mediatised and commercialised over the last three decades at the same time that structural changes have taken place in the national media systems. By using Finland as an example, article considers the structural transformation of the “Democratic Corporatist Model” defi ned by Daniel C. Hallin and Paolo Mancini in their /Comparing Media Systems/ (2004). Article also examines what the Finnish case could bring to the discussions on the public sphere and its relation to empirical analysis in general.