Does media entertainment enrich or deplete the functioning of democracy

By: Jonathan Kush

One of the perennial issues of journalism since the emergence of both the newspaper and television in the 19th century is the thorny issue of journalistic values and what true journalism and values stand for. It’s the tension between journalism as merely witness or watchdog, as passionate truth seeker or dispassionate factual narrator. To some, it is an ever-present war increasingly being won by media as a dispassionate factual witness. There is credence to this argument because modern media has increasingly become more market-oriented and entertainment-driven beset by issues of commercialisation as competition intensifies, a reduction in journalistic autonomy in many countries and a general debasement of journalistic traditions.  But the crux of the matter is whether market-driven media entertainment such as popular films and TV dramas, or documentaries enrich the functioning of democracy or depletes it. Does modern media entertainment add to a politically well-informed populace or simply acts as a diversion? Does contemporary media entertainment help to inform and educate citizens, adding independent balance to the political process or does it simply offer powder-puff entertainment in a race to attract viewers and ratings?

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