Politics and the Media   /   Summer 2008   /    Reviews

Bibliographic Review of Critical Texts on Politics and the Media

Christopher McKnight Nichols

In his Politics, Aristotle describes an ideal polis as one characterized by direct dialogue among and between all the political actors in the system. He saw this ideal as not only attainable but also a requirement for democratic society to function effectively.

Since the republics of ancient Greece, politicians, philosophers, and citizens have continued to debate how best to encourage democratic discourse within a state. The intervening millennia have witnessed vast changes at virtually every level of society and government, but the central challenge remains: how do we foster direct communication not only as a means to promulgate dialogue and disseminate information, but also as a check on government power? The media have often been the proposed answer to this democratic conundrum.

Most modern governments necessarily rely on an imperfect but seemingly omni-present media. Every president and prime minister, for example, must appear on television and seek publication in print and online media to disseminate key speeches and ideas. Thus, the media are a central power broker between citizens and government, enmeshed in both the public and private spheres that typically define government and social relations.

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