The Right to Tell: The Role of Mass Media in Economic Development

By Tefft, Sheila | Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, Autumn 2003 | Go to article overview

The Right to Tell: The Role of Mass Media in Economic Development


Tefft, Sheila, Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly


The Right to Tell: The Role of Mass Media in Economic Development. World Bank Institute, ed. Herndon, VA: World Bank Publications, 2002.322 pp. $35 pbk.

One only has to look at SARS and its devastation in China to see how secrecy can hurt a developing economy.

Just weeks ago, Beijing's new generation of Communist leaders basked in improved international standing and an energized economy. Then the spreading epidemic shattered the official cover-up and the Chinese sense of well being. The government admitted hiding information, faced domestic and world criticism, and confronted economic damage.

China's crisis is a cautionary tale that a shackled press and controlled information can carry an economic cost. It illustrates the main point of a recently released World Bank study arguing that a free press "is at the core of equitable development."

"The media can expose corruption. They can keep a check on public policy by throwing a spotlight on government action," James D. Wolfensohn, the World Bank president, said in a forward to the study, The Right to Tell: The Role of Mass Media in Economic Development. "They let people voice diverse opinions on governance and reform, and help build public consensus to bring about change."

The report, a collection of nineteen studies released in November 2002, seeks to go beyond the long-standing assertion that political transparency and a free press are human entitlements. The main premise is that openness also boosts economies and reduces poverty. How much the press helps this process depends on its independence, the quality of information, and people's access to the news media.

Illuminating this intricate interaction is not an easy undertaking. The research is often conflicting. And in its rush to expose the peril of state media ownership the World Bank at times seems to overlook the dangers of private media conglomerates. Monopolies, government or private, limit voices worldwide.

Bank research is rooted in the work of Amartya Sen, the Nobel Prize-winning architect of contemporary developmental economics. Sen is noted for his contention that famines do not occur in democracies and, indeed, that democracy and openness must go hand-in-hand with development.

Joseph Stiglitz, a Columbia University economist and a Nobel Prize recipient, acknowledges this legacy. "Free speech and a free press not only make abuses of governmental powers less likely, they also enhance the likelihood that people's basic social needs will be met," Stiglitz writes.

But Sen himself increasingly draws complaints for oversimplifying. In a recent article in the New York Times, critics said the economist overplays the impact of democracy and ignores widespread hunger and malnutrition in democratic countries such as India. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Right to Tell: The Role of Mass Media in Economic Development
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.