Normative Theory – Four Theories of the Press

in Mass Communication,Political Communication

Introduction:

Normative theories were first proposed by Fred Siebert, Theodore Peterson and Wilbur Schramm in their book called “Four Theories of the Press”. At first the word “Normative Theory” was pronounced in USA during the height of ‘cold war’ with communism and soviet. Often it called as western theories of mass media.

A Normative theory describes an ideal way for a media system to be controlled and operated by the government, authority, leader and public. These theories are basically different from other communication theories because normative theories of press are not providing any scientific explanations or prediction.  At the same these “four theories of the press” were came from many sources rather than a single source.  Sometimes media practitioners, social critics and academics also involved to develop these normative theories.

Normative theories are more focused in the relationship between Press and the Government than press and the audience. These theories are more concern about the ownership of the media and who controls the press or media in the country.

The four theories of the Press/Media

Few questions will helps to understand the needs of the normative theories

  1. Is media can published or broadcast any type’s of content will earn more profits in a shortest time? (think about Yellow journalism / Talbots )
  2. Is media can provide any public service even if no immediate profits can be earned?
  3. Is media can participate in any issues and solving the social problems?
  4. Is it essential for media to protect the consumers from the culprits, business frauds and corrupt bureaucrats by serving as a watch dog?
  5. What people expect from media during the time of crisis?
  6. Is media should broadcast the highly rated content even if it has high level of violence?
  7. Is a news paper publishing the unethical business content to encourage the company for its higher advertisements pay?

These questions are linked and concerned about the media day-to-day activities.

Examples:

  • In 1996, NBC news department accused an innocent man in Atlantic Olympic bombing.
  • In 1998, ABC radio falsely announced the death of the great comedian “Bob Hope” after receiving the error message from associated press.
  • Past few years how wiki leaks releasing the classified documents in online media and its effect.

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