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“Why Democracies Need an Unlovable Press”

The book entitled “Why Democracies Need an Unlovable Press” was written by a Guggenheim fellow no other than Michael Schudson. Michael Schudson is a distinguished professor of the Dept. of Communication at University of California in San Diego. He’s a professor of Communication at the Graduate School of Journalism, Columbia University. He’s great works has lead him to be a regular contributor in the Columbia Journalism Review, The American Prospect and the OpEd pages of the New York Times. He was known for his provocative essays pertaining journalism and democracy making him to be one of the recipients of MacArthur Foundation “genius” award winners. His outstanding book, “Why Democracies Need an Unlovable Press” has been a blockbuster. The main topic of this book covers about journalism and democracy and the relationship between each other with the following question:

“Journalism does not create democracy and democracy does not invent journalism, but  what is the relationship media but viewing them with comparison to bring out a fair context with understanding that news is centered between them?”

The book focused on U.S. on story-telling with facts on varied controversies about the current knowledge today and its function. It deals on whether experts should have a responsibility in governing a state in democratic perspective through unbiased news in a lively and provocative manner and straightforward with rich understanding of journalism.

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Michael Schudson defended the establishment of American Newspaper and its relevance to democracy through his essays. Through this form, Michael Schudson managed to support an argument as to the significance of democratic press. Schudson argues on the importance of news to relay information to the public which is the most common goal in a democracy to identify government officials who are accountable to public scrutiny. Schudson considers analysis as one of the key roles in which journalists help in breaking down important events into something more comprehensible to the public. Schudson acknowledges “social empathy” as “the human interest story” but other than that, they are mainly used as possible electors to gain social change. 

In an interview conducted by The Open Mind host, Richard Heffner, Schudson was succinctly asked: “Why Democracies Need an Unlovable Press”… It’s a strange title, Michael, What do you mean by it? Schudson answered that it was indeed and that it was inttended to provoke but it originally came from Alexis de Tocqueville, who was widely quoted with such quotation that quote: “the press in America is a building block essential to democracy. And that gets repeated at journalism banquets all over the country” though he made some addendum as an afterthought saying that journalism is very relevant for America specifically the newspaper not for its goodness because he himself finds it cantankerously obnoxious and violent, but for preventing bad things that could possibly happen which he thinks as absolutely of utmost importance but unlovable.

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Obviously, journalism is being used as a public forum where the people’s voices are represented as one to air their grievances or as vigilantes to those who are in the government position for check and balance purposes in the true spirit of democracy. Schudson is determined to the awareness of protecting the minority rights in the interest of ordinary people. He further challenges the advancement of liberal democracy in journalism to politically cover institutions which were not given importance through a certain process called “horizontal accountability” in which the press conduct surveillance not just during elections but how the team members of respective institutions coordinate with each other. Furthermore, Schudson encourages new goals as advancement for the press which is ideal for democracy.


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