Assess the pluralist view of the mass media Pluralism is the belief that power is spread widely throughout the world

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Hannah West 6ERW

Using Material from Item 3b and elsewhere, assess the pluralist view of the mass media

        Pluralism is the belief that power is spread widely throughout the world. It is a belief that companies or powerful groups are competing, but within boundaries of consensus and compromise. The idea of pluralism descends from functionalism. Functionalism is the view that society is structured; every institution in society fulfils certain roles and functions. If there was a disruption in one of these institutions then it could affect the stability of society as a whole. Functionalists believe that if something didn’t serve a purpose then it would not exist.

        The pluralist view of the mass media is based on this simple belief. Pluralists believe that the reason some newspapers or other forms of media seem biased is because they “simply respond to demand.” The public has the buying power and the media are simply trying to appeal to this. If they begin to put forward their own opinions or beliefs about certain issues, then they are only appealing to the people who share these ideas. If these ideas are extremely controversial then a very limited amount of people would buy the newspaper. Therefore, if the newspapers want to sell very well and make a profit, then they need to portray views, ideas and beliefs appealing to the majority of the public otherwise they would “risk going out of business.” Basically pluralists are saying that the mass media is a democratic organisation, as it is the public who decides which media product is successful. “If the media have any influence over people, it is because they reflect and reinforce society’s basic values, not because they impose their ideas on the public.”

Pluralists also argue that not all media owners are trying to control the content of the media. There have been many disputes between Editors and media owners over the control of the content. An example of this is the dispute between the (now ex-) editor of the Mirror, Piers Morgan, and its owner, Philip Graf. Piers Morgan published photographs in the Mirror showing British troops abusing captured Iraqi soldiers. These pictures caused a huge upset in the British Army, government and in the general public. Some government officials began to ask questions about these photographs and their sources. Piers Morgan stood by the photographs and was adamant that they were genuine, even when the owners of the Mirror began asking questions. The photographs were later proved to be forgeries. Piers Morgan was fired and walked out of the Mirror Offices. The pluralist theory that newspaper owners do not control the output of their media, some editors control the output themselves.

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Another example of disputes between organisations is the Government versus the BBC over the Iraqi war. This argument came about after Britain when to war with Iraq. One of the journalists in the BBC said that he had evidence that the dossier produced by the government, with reasons why we should go to war with Iraq (the evidence that Iraq has Weapons of Mass destruction), had been ‘sexed-up.’ The Government denied this, but the chief editor, editor in general both stood behind their journalist. This was eventually proved to be wrong, both of the editors resigned and so did the ...

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This student has addressed the question with confidence. They have raised and tackled some very important and complex issues with clarity. It would have been even better if quotations had been referenced. *****