The media as an educational medium and primary information source to the general citizenry of any nation is the most powerful influence people have in their daily lives. Even in our Canadian democratic system, where out constitution protects the citizens from military and police coercion, there are subversive ways in which the powerful elite in our society are able to further their interests while avoiding dissent. .
The question posed in this paper is whether the Canadian media is serving the public as well as it ought to in a democratic society or whether it is instead primarily serving the interests of the elite.
The following includes a list of the tasks as proposed by theorist Jurgen Habermas as a reference to ponder while considering this question. Also included are references to the theories posed by the Frankfurt School and that proposed by Antonio Gramsci, as to the purpose of the media in society. .
Habermas suggested that the media in a democratic society should provide for the following: .
1. Surveillance of the socio-political environment, reporting developments likely .
to impinge, positively or negatively, on the welfare of citizens; .
2. Meaningful agenda-setting; .
3. Providing a platform for illuminating advocacy by politicians and spokesperson for other causes and interest groups; .
4. Facilitating a dialogue across a diverse range of views, as well as between power-holders and mass publics; .
5. Creating a mechanism for holding officials accountable for how they exercised power; .
6. Providing incentives for citizens to learn, choose, and become involved in public life; .
7. Putting up a principled resistance to the efforts of forces outside the media to subvert their independence. .
(Cohen 1996, 47).
However, there have been questions as to whether the media, even in a democracy actually follows the ideal guidelines as suggested by Habermas. .
The Frankfurt School's theory, proposed prior to the Second World War, took a Marxist approach to the subject claiming that the media's purpose is to indoctrinate people to an ideology of capitalism.