Press freedom and communication rights: What kind of journalism does democracy need?

By Robert A. Hackett - 2013

The task of identifying appropriate models of journalism for Pacific Island nations as they strive for more democratic governance is not a straightforward one. This article summarizes several contending models of democracy—market liberalism/competitive elitism, public sphere liberalism, and radical democracy—and their attendant expectations of news media. When measured against the stated ideals of press freedom, and notwithstanding the emergence of the internet, the existing news systems of the dominant Western liberal-democracies, notably the US and UK, have significant democratic shortcomings, in relation to ‘watchdog’, public sphere, community-building and communicative equality criteria. Accordingly, the author argues that the practices and concept of press freedom need to be expanded and supplemented by a broader understanding and implementation of communication rights, entailing legal and cultural forms that support the full participation of all segments of society. Such a paradigm is especially appropriate for post-colonial countries dealing with issues of economic development and inter-ethnic conflict.

Pacific Journalism Review 19 (1) 2013 134-40. PDF.



Communication rights enable all people everywhere to express themselves individually and collectively by all means of communication. They are vital to full participation in society and are, therefore, universal human rights belonging to every man, woman, and child.


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