The scholarship on media freedom has tended to focus on threats from state and corporate power, avoiding the awkward reality that ‘people power’ can also be a source of constraints. These ground forces can work in tandem with political and economic power, or independently. They contradict the common assumption that the public is the natural ally of independent media, against the tyranny of states and markets. While Asian publics are more able than ever before to make themselves heard, it is naive to believe that they will always use their rising voices in support of democratic values. Apathetic silence is common, especially when people do not identify with the victims of human rights abuses, or when they do not feel directly harmed by official corruption. Today, there is ample evidence that the glare of publicity does not guarantee justice. In highly polarised societies, public opinion can even turn against journalists and other critics who malign leaders, parties and movements that are seen to represent the masses. Such dynamics require closer attention to what it means for the media to be free from power, and whom exactly the media should use their freedom for.
Scopus Subject Areas
- Media freedom