The Market vs. The Right to Communicate: The Anti-Political Local Press in Britain and The Journalism of Consensus

By  Karin Wahl-Jorgensen - 2005

The MacBride Report identified communication as a basic individual and collective right, and offered a range of recommendations to protect it. Among other things, the report highlighted the need to strengthen cultural identity, provide diversity of choice in media, reduce the commercialisation of communication, and remove obstacles to individuals’ participation. This article, based on interviews with journalists, argues that in the case of British local journalism, a market logic works against the right to communicate. The increasing dominance of resource-poor, chain-owned weekly newspapers has encouraged the rise of an anti-political journalism. I look at the anti-political tendencies of UK local journalism by focusing on campaigns, editorials and letters to the editor — the opinionated journalism through which local newspapers may advance social change. I argue that journalism-on-the-cheap, as practiced in local papers, becomes a journalism of consensus; one which has the power to enhance community solidarity but cannot question the status quo.

Javnost - The Public: Journal of the European Institute for Communication and Culture, Volume 12, Issue 3, 2005. Special Issue:   The MacBride Report - 25 Years Later.



Communication rights enable all people everywhere to express themselves individually and collectively by all means of communication. They are vital to full participation in society and are, therefore, universal human rights belonging to every man, woman, and child.


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