Discuss two factors that may threaten or limit the democratic functions of the media.  

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One way of the democratic functions of the media is the function of “watchdog.”  In this role, the media watches the government and alerts people when the government is doing things wrong.  For example, the media might expose corruption in the government where officials are taking bribes in return for favors. 

One factor that can limit or threaten this role is government pressure.  The government might threaten to arrest or fine journalists who write articles that it does not like.  It might order officials to refuse interviews to media outlets that write or air stories critical of the government.  It might order government agencies to crack down on such media outlets by doing such things as constantly claiming that the outlet is behind on taxes, getting people to make complaints about sexual harassment by bosses of the company, and other such things. In these ways, the government could put significant pressure on the media to look the other way instead of reporting on government abuses.

A second role of the media is to make sure that people know what they need to know.  As the link below says, the media should “provoke public debates leading to greater public participation in important decisions.”  Here, the media is supposed to give us high quality information about important events and issues.

A factor that can limit this is the media’s need to make a profit.  Many people are not interested in important topics and issues that have to do with government. People would rather watch or read stories about sports, celebrities, or other topics that are not particularly important.  They do not want to watch or read things that are meant to educate them, for example, on things like tax policy or the impact of free trade.  Because the media wants to make a profit, it needs to produce stories that people are interested in.  This can push the media towards reporting exciting stories on unimportant topics and ignoring important stories that would give people the information they need to help make decisions in a democracy.


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