Media and Government Accountability Assignment Requirement
Please select topic 6 on media and government accountability
Major essay topics
Prepare a fully referenced, research-based essay on ONE of the topics below.
Essay length: 3000 words (does not include footnotes/endnotes & bibliography). Worth 60%.
Submission requirements: All assignments to be lodged online via DSO. Marked assignments will be returned via DSO.
Late submission: Assignments are to be submitted by the due date unless an extension is granted. Extensions may be granted under special circumstances and are to be sought via email from the Unit Chair, Dr. Rod Wise. Unless there are special reasons any extension should be obtained before the due date. For details of penalties for late submission see ‘Late submission of assignments’ in Unit Guide.
Plagiarism & collusion: Ensure that you read the relevant section of your Unit Guide. See also the Guide to assignment writing and referencing which is located in the Unit Resources folder on our DSO home page.
Referencing & citation: Please use the Harvard (in-text) citation system, and attach a complete list of all works or material that you have drawn upon in preparing your assignment. This includes works directly cited, as well as material used in developing your assignment but not actually cited in the essay itself.
Assessment criteria: Detailed following the essay topics. Please ensure that you take this into account in preparing your essay!
Topics (choose ONE of the following topics)
1.Assess critically the implications of public-private partnerships (PPPs) for issues of transparency and accountability. In formulating your response draw upon evidence from one or more cases.
2. Examine and assess critically Mulgan’s (2003, p.150) argument that the non-profit sector ‘provides the clearest illustration of the need to limit accountability for the sake of other values’. You are encouraged to look at, say, a particular organisation, field of activity or such to help give your study both a solid empirical foundation and analytic depth.
2. Governance and accountability in emerging democracies:
i. Imagine you are advising and training a newly formed government in an emerging democracy. Traditionally, government has been run via a network of patron-client relationships. Critically assess the challenges you would face in assisting this government to improve accountability and transparency.
ii. What series of steps would be required in assisting a government (both politicians and public servants) in an emerging democracy to transition from a largely opaque, hierarchical governance system to a more transparent and accountable system?
4. ‘New Public Management reforms [since the 1980s] have worked to both increase and decrease accountability and transparency.’ Discuss critically.
5. While the accountability mechanisms of publicly listed companies resemble those of democratically elected governments, in practice, these mechanisms are often largely ineffective.’ To what extent do you agree with this statement?
6. Drawing on a specific case (or a couple of cases) assess critically the role of the media today in holding government to account, in the process identifying key pressures and/or processes at work to both enhance and diminish the media’s role as the fourth estate. （This one please）
7. Patrick Weller has called ministerial advisers the ‘black hole’ of government because they are often unknown to the public and largely unaccountable to the parliament. Explore and assess critically the accountability of ministerial advisers within Australian government today.
8. Journalist Adele Ferguson said in November, 2015, ‘The truth is if we want whistleblowers to provide information, they need to be treated as heroes instead of pariahs.’ Compare and contrast the role and treatment of whistleblowers in both the public and private sectors of Australia.
In marking this assignment assessors will be guided by the marking criteria indicated below.
|Comprehension of unit material Ensure that relevant theories or concepts and explanations are examined and applied in an appropriate, thoughtful way that demonstrates understanding and critical thinking. Ensure that information used is accurate, appropriate and utilised effectively.|
|Critical analysis Your essay must sustain a coherent, well developed argument that is supported though your use of evidence and reasons. This will require for instance careful consideration and analysis of other people’s views, and judicious use of evidence or examples to illustrate and substantiate points or arguments.|
|Quality and breadth of your research Ensure that your essay is well researched with good use of sources. Your reading must extend well beyond the study guide materials and core readings. Utilize and draw together in an effective manner materials form diverse print and electronic sources. The web can provide valuable material but you should not be overly dependent on this avenue. Ensure instead that such sources are balanced with your use of journals and books for instance.|
|Referencing One style of citation (preferably Harvard in-text system) is to be used. The use of other people’s ideas and evidence MUST be acknowledged appropriately. A complete bibliography of sources MUST accompany your essay (include materials directly cited and any others utilised in developing your assignment).|
|Relevance to the question or topic Ensure that the concepts and examples you use, and your argument as a whole, are pertinent to and linked clearly to the topic that you are addressing. Essay|
|Structure and organisation Clear, logical and easy to follow, with connections between different themes or sections well made. It should possess: an introduction setting out how you are approaching the topic and identifying your argument; an essay body that considers evidence and research and links these to your point of view or argument that you are developing here; and a conclusion that reiterates clearly and concisely your position or argument with regard to the topic.|
|Expression and use of language Expression should be clear, with a confident and precise style or tone. Spelling, punctuation and grammar must be satisfactory. Avoid over-using dot points and certainly avoid ‘mini- paragraphs’ (associated for instance with more journalistic styles of writing).|
|Submitting your assignment on time|
Effective governance is critical for socio-economic and political development. However, at times the people in positions of power abuse the power by engaging in events and formulating policies that impact on the wellbeing of the citizenry negatively. Following this, the need for a body that holds the government and those in power to account is essential for effectiveness in leadership and governance. The media has consistently depicted effectiveness in holding the government and the people in power to account. Branded the Fourth Estate, the media has extended its role to include critical and supervisory roles. According to Schultz (1998, p. 67), the increasing suspicion and scepticism by citizens about the honour and integrity of those in positions of power led to the development of the media as the idealised watchdog estate. However, this changes with time, place, and how the society views and intends to use it. Over the years, the development of the media due to the rising technological advancement has enhanced its effectiveness in undertaking the supervisory role where it observes, analyses and criticizes political systems within which it exists to ensure accountability. Understanding the importance of the media, different countries have set and implemented policies and measures to ensure its continued development. While this is the case, certain processes and policies limit the media’s effectiveness as the societal watchdog. This research outlines the role of the media in holding the government to account. In addition, through the application of various case studies, it discusses the different policies, processes, and pressures that enhance or diminish the media’s role.
The Role of the Media in Holding the Government to Account
The media holds the government to account through the promotion of social accountability and the amplification of the citizens’ voice. An informed society understands the role and functions of the government and demands that it acts in accordance with its mandate. The media ensures that the society receives critical information concerning the different operations of the government. It analyses and criticizes the government and all its operations and pass the information to the masses who then act upon it. Since the media remains central in the relationship between the citizens and the government, its role in the promotion of social and governmental accountability is undeniable. It keeps the government in constant check to ensure transparency and accountability in almost all the aspects of governance. For instance, the media analyses political policies, events, the actions of people in power and passes the information to the audience. The availability of the information creates awareness among the citizenry who then demand accountability in case of controversial policies, actions, or events. Through its ability to hold governments to account, the media has greatly minimised cases of misappropriation of public funds and corruption among other cases.
The media plays a key role in the minimization of censorship through the creation of a platform for unfiltered messaging. The social media and other digital media communications have reduced government censorship. The dissemination of uncensored information through the media creates government accountability. The impact of the social media and the internet has been great in the creation of awareness and the promotion of government accountability. In Egypt, the social media contributed greatly towards the development of the revolution experienced in the country in 2011. The internet and social networking sites were used in the dissemination of information and the creation of awareness on the state of the country. As people focused on overthrowing the regime of Hosni Mubarak, meetings and rallies were organized online and implemented effectively (Grill, 2011, p. 29). This incident reveals the effectiveness of the social media and media in general as the Fourth Estate and in bringing the government to account. However, according to Grill (2011, p. 29), particular countries apply high-tech internet control to monitor and implement censorship of the web. For instance, China and Vietnam censor the web to ensure that they withhold information they term as sensitive from the masses. This limits the application of the social media and the internet in holding the government to account.
Additionally, in the fulfilment of its watchdog function, the media plays a critical role as the Fourth Estate and in bringing the government to account (Schultz, 1998, p. 48). The process involves the scrutiny of events to outline any cases of abuse of power by those in official government and public positions. The process prevents the mismanagement of resources and enhances transparency and accountability. Of greater importance, however, the media keeps the public informed of all the processes more so where there any cases of abuse of power. In democratic countries where the citizens choose their leaders, informed decisions during the process lead to the choice of effective leadership. However, at times, the media can be easily manipulated by those in power to present the public with the information that shapes their political careers or promises party development. In addition, media outlets owned and controlled by the state or individuals in positions of power may depict bias in reporting (GSDRC, 2011). In such cases, the media fails in its role in holding the government to account. As such, to ensure government accountability, media credibility and accountability is essential. The credibility and accountability ensure that the media is reliable to offer credible, objective, and accurate information regarding the government (Mehrabi, et al., 2009, p. 136). The application of such information by the public brings the government to account.
The media offers a critical check of the government and leads to informed and comprehensive debates on issues of concern to the society, and which the government should tackle to ensure improved livelihood and enhanced socio-economic development. The society (especially low-income households) depends mainly on the government to set policies and measures that alleviate poverty and lead to the development of social amenities. Additionally, marginalized communities require government recognition and consequently, programs that promote their health and wellbeing. In the discussed issues, the media plays a significant role in reporting the concerns, whether in positive or negative light. For instance, in a negative light, the media can report concerns of poverty and under-development in some areas as the failure of the government in its leadership and governance. Such reporting might prompt debates that later result to reaction to the issue. Moreover, the media can raise awareness by informing those in the power of the problems the public face (GSDRC, 2011, p. 13). All in all, media contributes majorly to the creation of awareness on socio-economic and political matters. The process prompts government accountability.
Additionally, the media acts as a gatekeeper and an agenda-setter thus keeping the government in constant check, which results to government accountability. As the media highlights the socio-politico and economic challenges that face the society, the citizens are bound to demand its response on critical issues (GSDRC, 2011, p. 14). The government must offer clear guidelines on how it intends to solve the existing challenges to improve livelihood. Additionally, it must be able to avail detailed reports of the different societal projects, their distribution, and progress. In doing so, issues of equity are of great concern. As such, it is clear that the media plays an essential role in the promotion of government accountability. Its influence towards the overall development of a country is significant. There is, therefore, a need for governments to ensure the creation of effective grounds for the development of the media.
Key Processes/Pressures that Enhance or Diminish the Media’s Role
Over the last few decades, the global shift towards the development of democracies has led to the development of an impressive democratic space. The role of the media in the promotion of the development of democracy in different countries is undeniable. The influence of the media and the impact of information in the society has pushed governments towards the development of policies that enhance the media’s role in holding the governments accountable. With the understanding of the importance of effective media to any country, many governments have created an effective ground for the development of media through policies that enhance press freedom. For instance, in Australia, the last few decades have experienced a freer media. The establishment of the Australian Press Council (APC) in 1976 and the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) founded in 2005 have constantly served an important role in the development of the media of Australia (APC, 2011, pp. 6,10). The APC is a self-regulatory body of the Australian media that aims to promote and maintain the freedom of the press while the ACMA ensures efficiency in the media through legislation, standardization, codes of practice, and regulations. These bodies have worked collectively to ensure limited regulation of the media.
Different countries have enacted different laws and created similar bodies to ensure the minimum regulation of the media. For example, in the U.S., the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulates interstate communications and focuses on the protection of public safety and the promotion of media freedom and homeland security (FCC, 2016). As the media attains more freedom, it undertakes its role in holding the government to account effectively. With less regulation and the freedom to analyse and report different socio-economic and political concerns, the media keeps the government in check. Through the application of its freedom, the media criticizes the government on different issues to ensure transparency and accountability. As such, as the Fourth Estate, the media remains an essential component of governance, one which serves to keep the government in check. However, the regulation of the media is deemed important in some instances to avoid the misuse of the platforms.
In some instances, the regulation of the media diminishes it role as the Fourth State. Different countries regulate the media for different reasons. Even when most of the reasons are justifiable, regulation often limits the democratic application of the media in the critique of governments and the society. This limitation minimises the media’s ability to hold the government to account. Some of the reasons for the regulation of the media include the protection of state interests, public order, individual and sectional rights, and the promotion of efficiency and development of communication systems through technical standardization among other measures (University of Leicester, 2016). While these reasons are sound and necessary, the regulation of the media leaves room for its control and manipulation. In some countries, the regulation is implemented to control the media and limit its effectiveness in holding the government accountable. The regulation of the media restricts press freedom making it difficult to report on particular matters. For instance, reporting on issues that may reveal state secrets or pose danger to the wellbeing of a country’s citizens is regulated in different countries. This makes it difficult for investigative journalism to hold the military among other critical parts of the government to account.
The censorship of the media diminishes its role in the promotion of accountability and transparency in leadership and governance. The process leads to ineffective dissemination of information by the different media outlets. In extreme cases, the media only reports what the central government allows it to report. Therefore, it remains difficult for them to hold the government accountable. For example, the government of North Korea has over the years considerably censored the media in the country rendering it ineffective in the delivery of news and information to the masses. The media outlets in the country are state-owned, controlled, and operated and thus the promotion of accountability is impossible. They receive news from the strictly government-controlled Korean Central News Agency, which serves as the main tool for the promotion of propaganda and the manipulation of the masses by the government. Following this, the role of the media as the platform for holding the government accountable diminishes on the account of its control by the State. Different other governments censor the media and use the diverse outlets to manipulate and control the masses, even when the issue is not in the vast proportions seen under Kim Jong-un’s leadership.
Additionally, the North Korean government has managed to manage and control media and the citizens through the control of the internet and limiting access to social networking sites and other forms of digital media such as blogging. Even the world experiences a growing global democratic space, North Koreans continue to live in isolation and manipulation by their government, which has censored all media outlets in the country. Taking into consideration that the digital media operates solely by the utilization of the internet, the government controls it through the control of internet access and use. According to Sparkes (2014), North Koreans live in isolation from the global citizens due to the inability to access the internet. Access to the global internet is limited to high-level government officials (BBC News, 2013). Few institutions of higher learning access the internet through strictly monitored computers while the rest can only access the internet through Kwangmyong, the government-owned and controlled internet (Sparkes, 2014). The control of the internet translates into the control of the people as they are only able to access online material that the government deems acceptable. While this is the case, they lack access to major networking sites and the ability to interact and hold the government accountable. Due to this, the government continues to mismanage public resources while poverty remains significantly high.
The media plays a significant role in holding the government to account. Even when the role of the media changes with time and its application by the specific societies, its role in outlining socio-economic and political concerns remain universal and timeless. The media acts as the Fourth Estate that ensures transparency and accountability of the government to ascertain the protection of public resources. It does so through the critique of socio-economic and political decisions made by the government and those in power. Additionally, the media plays a critical role in the promotion and development of democracies, in the reduction of government censorship, and in the advancement of socio-political and economic development. In its duty as the Fourth Estate, the media disperses information mainly on critical issues and global occurrences keeping the masses informed and aware. The process leads to questioning and action towards specific issues. As such, through the different processes, the media holds the government into account, making it an essential tool for good governance.
the media is at times easily manipulated and used as tools for the promotion of
propaganda by the same governments it is supposed to hold to account. The control
leads to the development of various issues of concern such as the infringement
on press freedom. Different countries have set laws that limit press freedom
and render the media ineffective in its role of holding the government to
account. Additionally, the cases of state control and ownership of the media
render the media useless as the Fourth Estate. Some media in different
countries serve as the tools for the manipulation of their audiences. Also, the
regulation of media content makes it an ineffective Fourth Estate. Therefore,
regarding all the issues discussed, there is a need for every government to
focus on the development of its media. However, there is also a need to regulate
it minimally to limit cases where the media infringes on the rights of its audiences.
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BBC News, 2013. North Korea Profile. [Online]
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FCC, 2016. What We Do. [Online]
Available at: https://www.fcc.gov/general/what-we-do
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Available at: http://www.gsdrc.org/topic-guides/communication-and-governance/media-development/
[Accessed 15 January 2016].
Mehrabi, D., Hassan, M. A. & Ali, M. S. S., 2009. News Media Credibility of the Internet and Television. European Journal of Social Sciences, 11(1), pp. 136-148.
Schultz, J., 1998. The Idealised Watchdog Estate. In: Reviving the Fourth Estate: Democracy, Accountability and the Media. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 47-68.
Sparkes, M., 2014. Internet in North Korea: everything you need to know. [Online]
Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/11309882/Internet-in-North-Korea-everything-you-need-to-know.html
[Accessed 15 January 2016].
University of Leicester, 2016. Why are media regulated?. [Online]
Available at: http://www.le.ac.uk/oerresources/media/ms7501/mod2unit11/page_03.htm
[Accessed 14 January 2016].