The Second Annual May 4, 1970, Symposium "MEDIA, PROFIT AND POLITICS:Competing Priorities in an Open Society"
Speaker Hodding Carter III, President and CEO of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
April 11 and 12, 2001
· Three papers will be selected for each of the four panels listed below.
· Each presenter will receive a $1,500 stipend.
· Selected papers will be published, along with discussants’ comments, in a Kent State University Press book commemorating the symposium.
· Send a single-page proposal, with a copy of your curriculum vitae, by Nov. 6 to Thom Yantek and Joe Harper, Symposium Co-Chairs (address below).
If the events that unfolded at Kent State on May 4, 1970, teach us anything, it is that communication of divergent points of view has to take place in an atmosphere of inquiry and trust if difficult social issues are to be resolved peacefully. The need for reflection encounters fundamental difficulties in the face of economic forces, technological changes, and an often apathetic body politic. This symposium will look at questions arising from the clash of those
societal forces in an attempt to learn from the past some important lessons for the future.
Panel One: The Proper Role of the News Media in a Democratic Society: Is It Enough Simply to Cover the News? Ever since the arrival of the “penny press” and the decline of the overtly partisan newspapers of the 19th century, journalists increasingly have prided themselves on an ability to report the news objectively. In recent years, however, “objectivity” has come under fire. Critics claim that, in an era saturated with hype, the practice of objectivity prevents journalists from applying to their stories a necessary, critical perspective. As a corrective for that perceived fault, news outlets across the country in recent years have begun practicing “civic journalism.” The practice has proven controversial. This panel will look at the conflicting journalistic values of objectivity and engagement to explore the appropriate boundaries of professional behavior for the press in a rapidly changing media environment.
Panel Two: Media and the Vanishing Voter: What Accounts for Declining Political Participation? Since the high watermark of 1960, electoral participation in the U.S. has been on the wane. Despite the hundreds of millions of dollars spent biennially on campaign advertisements, half or more of the eligible electorate choose to stay home on Election Day. Although any number of causes can be advanced to account for the decline, one explanation that has gained prominence concerns the type of electoral coverage practiced regularly by today’s mass media. The argument is that a shallow, strategy-obsessed brand of campaign coverage has promoted cynicism among voters, resulting in their dropping out of the process. Alternative camps dispute this coverage-based account of declining voter turnout. This panel will evaluate those conflicting theories and consider solutions to the problem of electoral disengagement.
Panel Three: New Technologies of Communication: Can We/Will We/Should We Achieve Participatory Democracy? Advocates of democracy welcome the development of new technologies as potential antidotes to concentrated control over political communication. They see in the Internet and related media a potential for bringing about decentralized (popular) control over the “marketplace of ideas.” Critics, however, fear the further erosion of public dialogue as narrowcasting and wireless communication permit immediate, Balkanized responses to emerging social problems — an instantaneous ability to react that is at odds with the inherently deliberative nature of democracy. This panel evaluates the relative merits of those differing perspectives.
Panel Four: Media Concentration and Democratic Discourse: Are Media Corporations Profiting at the Public’s Expense? We are experiencing a consolidation of media outlets on an unprecedented scale, both within and across the different sectors of the communications industry. While proving to be profitable for their shareholders, the resultant media giants are seen by critics as threats to the kind of open communication needed in democratic/democratizing societies. What are the implications for the social order if more and more of the give-and-take of communication is mediated by fewer and fewer corporate entities? Do for-profit media conglomerates conflict with the fundamental requirements of a democratic order? Or can the two coexist and even flourish together? This panel takes up those essential questions as we look to the future of political communication.
Thom Yantek and Joe Harper, Symposium Co-Chairs
Department of Political Science
Kent State University
Kent, OH 44242-0001
Send comments and questions to H-Net
Webstaff. H-Net reproduces announcements that have been submitted to us as a
free service to the academic community. If you are interested in an announcement
listed here, please contact the organizers or patrons directly. Though we strive
to provide accurate information, H-Net cannot accept responsibility for the text of
announcements appearing in this service. (Administration)