Normative press theories in today’s globalized and mediated context

What are the possibilities and challenges of applying/operationalizing normative press theories in today’s globalized and mediated context? Please provide examples particularly related to applying these theories on the functioning of mainstream and alternative media.

When exploring the possibilities and challenges of applying normative press theories in today’s globalized and mediated context, one must first understand normative theories. Downing (2007) describes normative theories as those that don’t seek to explain comparative media systems, but rather to define them by specific guiding principles (p. 25). Normative theories are concerned with what the media should be doing, rather than what they actually do. The possibilities that exist within applying normative press theories in today’s globalized context are allowing us to look at the similarities and differences of communicating across he globe. The normative theories developed in Siebert, Peterson, and Schramm’s taxonomy include authoritarian, Soviet, liberal and social responsibility (p. 23). The possibilities that exist with using these theories are we can see both the similarities and differences between how individuals across the globe engage with the media. These theories can also help us understand our own media system. Since we are often too close to our own media to be able to objectively evaluate it, the evaluation of other media systems allows us to understand how our own media contrasts.



One of the challenges with normative theories is the use of the concept “model”. According to Downing (2007), a “model” is something to be followed (p. 26). However, when looking at this from a globalized context, there isn’t one ideal “model” to be followed, as there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. According to Dr. el-Nawawy the normative theories are often criticized because they overlap, are too idealistic, have a Western bias and they don’t keep up with current events (2014, slide 3). The transnational media management theory evaluates how globalization affects both the content and quality of media, including film and news. This theory also looks at how that content in turn affects the politics, economics and culture of the country’s residents (Deuze, 2011, p. 17). Another example of the challenges of the normative theories in the globalized context is that the guiding principles of the media may be different than their actions. Take, for example, communist media. Communist media claimed that their purpose was to serve the broad population, but it was discovered that they actually covered-up information (Downing, 2007, p. 26). Finally, Downing made a great point about those of us who live in economically advanced countries are not in the best position to truly understand how media works in other countries (2007, p. 27).


When I think about today’s globalized media context, I think about how certain news stations, such as Fox News, use a certain bias to report information. While they may claim that they serve the general population, they have a slant to what they report and how they report it. Additionally, there are many alternative media channels that provide an alternate view of news. Alternative media allows contrasting sources of news to inform the public, outside of the mainstream media (Globalization 101). One example of a global alternative media source is the Drudge Report. The Drudge Report headline today is “Feds: Russians hacked American banks”. This is an example of an American political right wing alternative news channel reporting on global news.

Were the postcolonial theoretical approaches to communication successful in steering us away from the Anglo-Euro centric focus?


The postcolonial theoretical approaches follow the viewpoint that cultural interests of postcoloniality and communication are intertwined (Shome and Hedge, 2010). Shome and Hedge also say that the politics of postcolinity and the politics of communications are intertwined (p. 89). Postcolonial studies analyze the problems and consequences of colonialism. Many postcolonial studies include feminist theory, Marxist theory, queer theory and others. According to Shome and Hedge the post-colonism in the Anglo-Euro area go back to sociological and intellectual conditions (p. 92). The postcolonial theoretical approaches have helped pave the way to steering us away from the Anglo-Euro centric focus, but we are certainly not there yet. Given that communications and culture are used synonymously, it diminishes concerns with gender, race and ethnicity (p. 97). The postcolonial connection is powerful in connecting us globally and culturally, but movement beyond the Anglo-Euro centric viewpoint is not organic.


Can diasporic and alternative media play a role in energizing active democracy? Justify your response.


Disaporic and alternative media play a role in energizing active democracy because they allow for alternate opinions and a global viewpoint. According to Thussu (2010) “the growth and circulation of disaporic media also indicate that there is ore than just one centre of globalization.” When I think of alternative media, I think of the smaller news sources that speak to individual interests. One example of a smaller, alternative media source that influenced a global movement is Occupy Wall Street. I also think of the feminist news sources, such as Jezebel. I think that Jezebel is an example of an alternative media source that energizes active democracy. By speaking to interests that are outside the mainstream Anglo-Euro centric view, others are more engaged and plugged in to the information. Basset (2013) speaks about how the modernization theory states that ‘development means becoming more like us,” (slide 1). I believe that alternative media sources buck that notion and allow groups across various cultures to have a voice.


Do you receive the majority of your news via a mainstream or alternative media source? Do you have any preferred alternative media sources?


Basset, S. (2013, June 08). SY4 Modernisation Theory. [Video file]. Retrieved from:

Downing, John D. H. (2007). Drawing a bead on global communication theories. In Y. Kamalipour (Ed.), Global Communication (pp. 22-38). Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.


El-Nawawy, M. (2014). Communication theories and ideologies [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from


Globalization 101. Alternative Media. Retrieved from


Mierzejewska, B. I. (2011). Media management in theory and practice. In M. Deuze (Ed.), Managing Media Work (pp. 13-24). Washington, DC: Sage Publications, Inc.

Thussu, D. (2010). Toward a communication theory of modernization: A set of considerations. In D. K. Thussu (Ed.), International Communication: A Reader (pp. 73-88). New York: Routledge


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