Media and Society1

Figure 1. Four types of media

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Figure 1. Four types of media

Observer – Mirror

Closed access

access osed access

Open access

Participant – Weapon

The basic (vertical) dimension runs between the extremes of an outside and neutral observer of events in society, or mirror for looking at the world, on the one hand, and an active participant in running and changing society, or weapon to fight in the world, on the other. Historically, among the first papers were both information gazettes of an observer nature (serving commercial and administrative elites) and participating papers of a fighting nature (serving political parties including liberation movements). The other (horizontal) dimension runs between two extreme types of gatekeeping for the media: open access to the media without discrimination, and controlled access to the media with screening and selection of messages. Against these dimensions, four basic types of media roles can be distinguished. In each society at a time different media are located in different places in the figure.

Figure 2 presents a different logic for mapping out media models, with a focus on the normative roles of the media. While the horizontal dimension of media Autonomy vs. Dependency is more or less the same as the Open-Closed dimension above, the vertical dimension of Institutional vs. People’s power is quite different from the Observer-Participant dimension.

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