Journalism and democracy in the uk

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  • Publicado : 7 de diciembre de 2010
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Democracy and journalism, two stories strongly linked

In the 15 century there was one of the most famous inventions in the history: the print. With the print, humans acquire the capacity to create lots of copies of the same document, letter or, years later, images. We can say that this was the key moment in journalism history.
Nowadays we are surrounded by information. It is presented indifferent ways, from bulletins and pamphlets to newspapers and broadcast programs. People do not know how difficult was the beginnings of journalism, everything was a barrier. Governments were powerful and newspapers were an enemy for their lucrative purposes, society was not taught to use information and news for their advantage and revolutionaries were, in their majority, stuck in out-datedcommunication methods and demonstrations systems. But there was a group of intellectuals who disliked those situations, they wanted to face new challenges for their respective governments, they wanted to make the difference to gain rights and fight for them. In conclusion, they wanted democracy to combat the apathy that during centuries has been weighing in all citizens, that's what led them to create awritten method of political protest and attraction for commoners; it was the press and its subliminal power.
As I said, the print was the key tool but the idea of press had to wait. The print was used to create copies of religious books and some literary books which were under a lot of pressure because of censorship. It was in the 17th century and after a civil war when pamphlets were a vital wayof communication and lots of years of censorship imposed by the monarchy, when we can talk about “newspapers”. Roach (read in Seaton, 1997, p.7) writes, “lay in the fact that the newspaper had not yet reached financial independence, and consequently depended on the administration or the parties.’ The growth of newspaper profits, largely from advertising, supposedly rescued the press from economicdependence on the state. This view has been succinctly restated by Ivon Asquith in a scholarly study of the early nineteenth-century press. ‘Since sales were inadequate to cover the costs of producing a paper”. The 17th century was really fructiferous, we can consider “public sphere” as the intellectual improvement that encourage people, mid-class most of them, to think about and discuss news andall kind of debateable information. Then newspapers acquire a very important role in society, it was like a truck which transports tons of information. Censorship start been regulated which was basic for objectivity purposes, and that boost the creation of the first daily newspaper, in 1702. Defoe was definitely one of the most important journalists during 17th century and for most of the peoplethe father of journalism in England.
Government, concerned about how powerful press was, decided to “take care” of newspapers. They nationalized newspapers and imposed a tax of 1 penny in 1712. In other words, Press was pushing the Government. We can consider John Wilkes, MP, criticized the King and instead advocated for the freedom of the press. That obliged the UK government to attractednewspapers to their benefit, but taxes were a bad idea. This tax limited newspapers to mid-class and ruler class people, then other non-stamped newspapers grown in secrecy for people who could not afford them, the radical press.
Radical press lived, as I said, in secrecy; that made it irregular and sometimes unreadable. Seaton (1997, p.11) said, “The rise of the radical press as an extra-parliamentaryforce also revealed the limitations of official censorship. Successive governments sought to curb the radical press through the law courts. But although the seditious and blasphemous libel law was framed in a catch-all form that made any kind of fundamental criticism of the social order a legal offence, it was not always easy to enforce”. The aim of these newspapers was suppress taxes for...
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