Petros Iosifidis

Sociology, City University, London

2011. Information, Communication and Society, 14(5), p. 619-637

Taylor and Francis Publications



“The traditional Habermasian concept of the national public sphere created by the mass media of newspapers and television is said to have transformed to a multi-layered sphere of online and social networks which are increasingly important in engaging and mobilizing citizenship and in shaping the discourse within which rational discussion takes place. This article argues that the democratizing and empowering functions of the Internet and the new social media is being exaggerated and represent technological optimism for a number of reasons: the open participation of the Internet can turn chaotic; there is a problem of inclusiveness; censorship might be an issue; the Internet has become a major arena for corporate activity; the Internet’s content is highly partisan; and above all, extensive dialogue and critical discussion (the very essence of the public sphere) is often absent on the Net. The article argues that open-platform Public Service Media (PSM) are capable of developing more comprehensive and inclusive social frameworks than online providers. Despite the growing financial gulf between PSM and their commercial competitors, public institutions should be free to expand online and into different platforms. As trusted media brands, PSM contribute to the creation of an inclusive public sphere, enhanced civic engagement and informed citizenship.”

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