Media Reform: Democratizing the Media, Democratizing the State

Media Reform: Democratizing the Media, Democratizing the State

Media Reform: Democratizing the Media, Democratizing the State

Media Reform: Democratizing the Media, Democratizing the State


In analysing the relationship between an independent media and the development of a democratic society, the authors of this study examine the impact of political changes on the media and how changing media structures influence political reform.


This book examines a complex process: the impact of political transitions on media structures and the impact of changing media structures on political reform. In particular, the effort was to study the difficult moves toward more democratic institutions in a widely varied set of contexts. The study introduces hypotheses concerning forms of intervention in media law and policy that might assist scholars, government officials, and society in general to render media more plural and diverse. The chapters explore the timing or stages within the overall media reform process. International organizations, entities committed to the building of civil society, regional aggregations, and private corporations are struggling in regard to the shape of media space and its impact on individuals and society. The purpose here is to search for common themes, common approaches, and a greater understanding of the relationship between public actions and social results.

To achieve this goal, the editors and authors sought comparative perspectives. In this book, we have experimented with a relatively novel approach to comparative analysis in the field of media reform, as we shall set forth below. The introduction of competition from the private sector in Poland, the passing of a new press law in Indonesia, and the persecution of journalists for libel and sedition in Uganda seem wholly disconnected from each other and from theories of democratic transformation. But it is the task of a comparativist to try to integrate such phenomena to the greatest extent possible. Here, we believe we have made a start.

Individual cases, while consequential within their societies, must be placed in a context from which they can later be analyzed. One function of such analysis would be to provide guidance to those involved in transitions in overarching processes of media reform and democratization. It is only in comparison with other similar occurrences that change in structure and modifications of law and policy become generally illustrative or informative.

The very concepts of “media reform” and “democratization” have a relative quality. Comparison is integral to building criteria by which to gauge democratization or reform. A comparative framework assists in developing a reasonable assessment of the conditions that represent reform and how these reform processes promote or hinder the development and stabilization of democratic practices. But to say that a comparative approach is desirable leads

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