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Four Theories of the Press Siebert, Peterson and Schramm

Frederick S Siebert, Theodore Peterson and Wilbur Schramm, Four Theories of the Press. Urbana, University of Ilinois Press, 1963 (Originally published in 1956

The Theories
Authoritarian Libertarian Social Responsibility Soviet Communist

Authoritarian
Developed in the 16th and 17th centuries Absolute power of the monarchy (truth) Press supports monarchy Press must be licensed Cant criticize monarchy

Libertarian
Began during the Enlightenment (Milton, Locke, Mills): Rationalism and Natural Rights Time of the Founding Fathers Press informs, entertains and sells Press helps discover the truth the free marketplace of ideas Anyone can publish Cant defame or be obscene Checks government

Soviet Communism
From Marx, Lenin and Stalin Press contributes to success of the state Only legal party members can publish Government has influence over the press Cant criticize party

Social Responsibility
How our press is suppose to operate Dont have a free marketplace, so press must be responsible or forced to be Everyone should have access to press (letters, opinions) Controlled by community opinion, ethics Cant violate peoples rights Press can be free and be combrehensive and objective

Hutchins Commission 47
Power of chains
Lack of social responsibility Need for truthful, comprehensive, intelligent account of days events Need to be a forum for comment, criticism Need to be representative (minorities) Need to challenge societys goals and values

Goals of Social Responsibility


Journalism school needed to train reporters Journalists need to be free from obligations and influence Opinion pages Local control of content (especially with chains) Ombudsmen to be readers advocates