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The civil power of the news



This paper is concerned with how the civil power of the news is based upon the fact that it consistently deals with and reports on our four basic invariant civil concerns. These invariant civil concerns I call: identity, legitimacy, umwelt and boundary maintenance. I discuss these in detail in terms of the variant ways the news provides us with choices as to the kind of civil society we want. I conclude that it is through the representation of these choices that the news reveals its soft power and its influence upon public reasoning and public opinion.

Jackie Harrison is Professor of Public Communication and Chair of the Centre for Freedom of the Media (CFOM) at the University of Sheffield, UK. Her area of expertise is the civil role and power of news and her research examines three aspects of the factual media: its architecture and culture; the mediation of civil society and social identity and issues of news freedom and standards. She has written extensively in these areas and is currently researching different news media’s legal and policy regimes, self regulation and codes of conduct and the concomitant risks of direct (and indirect) censorship; the failures and abuses of news media freedom and declining news standards across the world, especially the blurring of the distinctions between factual reporting and unsubstantiated opinion.

To date she has also undertaken research for the Media Subcommittee of the Parliamentary Assembly Council of Europe (PACE), The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, The Soros Foundation, the British Academy and a variety of media companies. She has also served as an expert advisor for media companies in China, Germany and Japan and has acted as an expert adviser on EU broadcasting regulation to the Taiwanese National Communication Committee and the Taiwanese Industry Experts Cable TV Forum. She has served as an expert witness on a judicial review of Irish radio licences and has served on several professional journalism committees. She is a member of the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council’s (ESRC) Peer Review College.

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4.00pm - 6.00pmThursday 13th December 2012