Media and Media Power (2004)

The Engelsberg Seminar 2004

June 17th to 19th 2004 at Avesta Manor, Sweden

It is a widespread perception today that reality and media images are merging, the media becoming our reality. Shakespeare’s words ”All the world’s a stage” would today be expressed: ”All the world’s a studio”. We are bombarded with images and information from a global media network, which is spreading an increasingly fine-meshed net over our everyday world and our self-perception. Narcissus sees his reflection today not in a pond, but a screen. What mind creates this symbiosis between media and mentality? Power over opinion has always been an important dimension in politics, but today the dramaturgy of the media probably has more influence than ever before. How does it affect politicians and the thrust of politics? But if the media really have such power over politics and the mind, there is reason to ask who has power over the media and what governs the actions of these players. How do editors and journalists perceive the world? What do they base their stance on? Do media owners have set agendas, or do they simply try to adapt to whatever they think will sell? How do media moguls deal with other centres of power – political, economic and military? What power do advertisers have over the editorial content of the media? What role do the media play in forming the new world order, today seemingly dominated by the USA? On the one hand, ownership in the media world is being concentrated; on the other hand, control over information has been much more difficult to acquire. During the war on Iraq, a network of individuals in the USA created their own alternative news agency, From Baghdad, via a webblog, the Iraqi Salam Pax gave his views on the war – critical both of Saddam and the USA. No discussion on media power today can ignore the small players. They are developing new behavioural patterns, both as producers and as consumers. The question is if in the final analysis it is the consumers, through their preferences, who have the last word, rather than the commercial media. Criticism of the media for “dumbing down” could then be rephrased: where have all the thinking consumers gone? Or is it conceivably so that mass media and mass communication require archetypal themes to dramatize the message in order to capture its readers/spectators? Are mass media consumers furthermore in fact stirred by low gossip and great stories whether true or false in substance? If this is the formula that media is, consciously or unconsciously, determined by – where are we to end up in the future?


The Set and Setting of Journalism

John Lloyd
Editor-in-Chief, Financial Times Magazine
Lecture: Power and Responsibility – A Comparative Perspective on European Media

Thomas Steinfeld
Editor, Süddeutche Zeitung
Lecture: Making up Which Mind? Print Journalism and Intellectual Culture in the West

Jonathan Fenby
Author and Editorial Director,
Lecture: Ten Years On – How the Internet Has Changed Information and Media Power and How It Has Not

Niklas Ekdal
Political Editor-in-Chief, Dagens Nyheter
Lecture: Editorial Journalism – A Thriving Dinosaur

David Frum
Author and journalist, American Enterprise Institute
Lecture: A Free Market in Ideas: How Market Competition is Making the Media More Fair and More Useful


Media and Democracy

Adam Michnik
Editor-in-Chief, Gazeta Wyborcza
Lecture: Imperfect Society – Reflections upon the Power of the Press in Poland

Laurent Joffrin
Editor-in-Chief, Le Nouvel Observateur
Lecture: French Press and Its Political Influence

William H. Roedy
President, MTV Networks International
Lecture: Rocking the Vote – A Global Perspective: How Young People can Change the World

David Goodhart
Editor-in-Chief, Prospect Magazine
Lecture: Media and Hyper-Democracy

Sidney Blumenthal
Author and journalist
Lecture: Media Power and the Crisis of Democracy


The Value of News

Thomas Hylland Eriksen
Professor, University of Oslo, Dept. of Social Anthropology
Lecture: Informing Ourselves to Death

Nathan Shachar
Author and journalist, Dagens Nyheter
Lecture: The Middle Eastern Soap Opera – How One Conflict Monopolizes News

Isabel Hilton
Author and journalist, The New Yorker
Lecture: The Foreign Correspondent

Edward Lucas
Journalist, The Economist
Lecture: The Public’s Right to Incorrect Information

Roy Greenslade
Professor, City University, London
Lecture: News: The Free Market’s Most Precious Commodity


The Future of Media

Tarun Tejpal
Editor-in-Chief, Magazine Tehelka
Lecture: Independent Media in India – Past, Present and Future

Anna Politkovskaia
Journalist, Novaya Gazeta
Lecture: The Freedom of Press in Russia

Kavi Chongkittavorn
Editor-in-Chief, The Nation
Lecture: Tighter Knots: The Future of Southeast Asian Media

Shuli Hu
Editor-in-Chief, Caijing Magazine
Lecture: China and Media Reform

Shashi Tharoor
Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, United Nations
Lecture: UN Perspectives on the Future of Media