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2004: Media and Media Power

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?

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 blog, 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 dramatise the message in order to capture their 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 are, consciously or unconsciously, determined by – where are we to end up in the future?


John Lloyd: Power and Responsibility – A Comparative Perspective on European Media

Editor-in-Chief, Financial Times Magazine, UK

Thomas Steinfeld: Making up Which Mind? Print Journalism and Intellectual Culture in the West

Editor, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Germany

Jonathan Fenby: Ten Years On – How the Internet Has Changed Information and Media Power and How It Has Not

Author and Editorial Director,, UK

Niklas Ekdal: Editorial Journalism – A Thriving Dinosaur

Political Editor-in-Chief, Dagens Nyheter, Stockholm, Sweden

David Frum: A Free Market in Ideas: How Market Competition is Making the Media More Fair and More Useful

Author and Journalist, American Enterprise Institute, USA

Adam Michnik: Imperfect Society – Reflections upon the Power of the Press in Poland

Editor-in-Chief, Gazeta Wyborcza

Laurent Joffrin: French Press and Its Political Influences

Editor-in-Chief, Le Nouvel Observateur, Paris, France

William H. Roedy: Rocking the Vote – A Global Perspective: How Young People can Change the World

President, MTV Networks International, New York, USA

David Goodhart: Media and Hyper­Democracy

Editor-in-Chief, Prospect magazine, UK

Sidney Blumenthal: Media Power and the Crises of Democracy

Author and Journalist, USA

Thomas Hylland Eriksen: Informing Ourselves to Death

Professor, Department of Social Anthropology, University of Oslo, Norway

Nathan Shachar: The Middle Eastern Soap Opera – How One Conflict Monopolises News

Author and Journalist, Dagens Nyheter, Sweden

Isabel Hilton: The Foreign Correspondent

Author and Journalist, The New Yorker, USA

Edward Lucas: The Public’s Right to In­correct Information

Journalist, The Economist, UK

Roy Greenslade: News: The Free Market’s Most Precious Commodity

Professor of Journalism, City University, London, UK

Tarun Tejpal: Independent Media in India – Past, Present and Future

Editor-in-Chief, Tehelka, New Delhi, India

Anna Politkovskaya: The Freedom of Press in Russia

Journalist, Novaya Gazeta, Moscow, Russia

Kavi Chongkittavorn: Tighter Knots: The Future of Southeast Asian Media

Editor-in-Chief, The Nation, Bangkok, Thailand

Shuli Hu: China and Media Reform

Editor-in-Chief, Caijing, Beijing, China

Shashi Tharoor: UN Perspectives on the Future of Media

Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, United Nations