The term Fourth Power refers to the media (media). It was originally reported in the press, as it was the only media, before the development of the rest (radio, television, Internet).
The title of the Fourth Power has been established on the basis of the three powers we know: legislative, executive and judicial.
Somewhere here, then, the indistinguishable boundaries begin. Of course depending on the approach, the usefulness, or the dysfunction of the Fourth Power changes.
In the first and best approach, the media, after their liberation and independence from the state, contributed to its democratization:
- They act controllingly towards the state and monitor the exercise of the three powers, revealing any abuses and ensuring transparency, that is, they perform the role of "guardian".
- They provide information on public issues to more and more groups, thus enlarging the political nation. As its size increases, so does its power, that is, its democracy.
- They convey the voice of the people, unifying all the different opinions that come from society and are worth hearing through the common prism to which they converge. In other words, they transmit public unanimity as it emerges through social dialogue.
Thus they function as a communication channel between the rulers and the people but also between the motley groups of the latter. The media strengthens the people: on the one hand by criticizing the political power and controlling it thoroughly and on the other hand by conveying the popular pulse and representing the public opinion in the government. This transfer of power from the state to the people, mediated by the media, gives the latter the title of the Fourth Power. Fourth Power, in the sense that they embody the "voice of the people in the corridors of power."
The other view opposes the first and this is because its representatives and the representatives of the political economy of the media deny the function of the media as a Fourth Power. They believe that the media have never been able to free themselves from the power structure and become completely independent, nor to become the voice of society.
- The media are not neutral as long as they are large companies or dependent on companies, they are subject to some ownership regime and in fact often oligopolistic, even monopolistic. This, by definition, makes them actors of private (mainly) interests and alters the role of "guardian" as it is part of what they have to control. (Eg General Electric, Toshiba and Fiat are some of the companies that have acquired SMEs)
- The media, their owners and the journalists who work for them are part of the establishment. We can not forget their political commitments, the power exercised by their leadership groups, the relationship they seek to have with the government and the legislation to which they are subject. All this limits independent journalism to the limits of what is permissible and possible as defined by a capitalist system.
- Censorship may no longer be carried out by the state but it is just as harsh. This time it comes from the free market system and is in the form of dependence on advertising, the high market costs of most SMEs, the constant growth of oligopolies. So not all voices are heard equal, but those that have the chapter.
These are some of the signs that the media is manipulating and producing reality, rather than acting as a mirror. Thus, there is probably no Fourth Power, as a power of the people through the media as the first view argues, but the power of the media is manifested, according to the economic and cultural elite in power, over the people.
What will happen now if we confuse the two approaches above?
For example, what would a hidden Fourth power that strengthens the state machine look like to you?
We are talking about an illusion of the first approach, where under the banner of justice, autonomy and the well-being of the People, governments can and do exist, simply because they do not convey information.
Why am I writing all of the above? So we are in 2022 and I think we are addressing an audience that can think and judge out of the boundaries, or at least outside the established limits.
Roasting TV channels and using a political (non-political) sauce (regardless of color) can create great dishes, but they are far from the truth. Let us not forget the value of the raw truth….
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