“Populism and Media Failure”

By Alex Wittmann

In the day and age in which we live, mass media and news outlets of a wide degree of sources contribute a great deal to how one sees the world and formulates their own opinions. The Populists of the Far Right have used and exploited mass media in order to advance their movement and gain following. I am in agreeance with the article that unregulated digital media platforms have become the breeding ground for reactionary movements to take hold. The fact that that Liberal media was in shock that Populist movements such as Trump’s election and the UK’s decision to leave the EU shows arrogance on the part of mainstream media and their inability to acknowledge that there are certain structural issues with unregulated platforming that allows for reactionary Right Wing movements to gain traction based on unregulated platforming. Social Media plays a very large role in reactionary movements because the platforming is set up in such a way that anyone can say whatever they want and spread as many lies as they want without the risk of fact checking. There are no limits as to what political ads can be platformed either. In fact, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zukerberg said before a Congressional hearing that Facebook will not stop far right ads and misinformation from circulating, he said that it is up to the viewer to decide what is credible or not. The article calls for a redistributive model that funds grassroot journalism able to cater to a wide range of audiences, separate of political affiliation willing to hold power to account without being held by vested corporate interests. This sounds like a good idea in theory but I believe that Populism will always find a way to get its message across on social media. The people who support such movements are highly passionate and motivated to throw their support behind the Populist cause. If they see any attempt by the media to curb their perceived “free speech,” it could likely result in rebellion far worse than the one in which brought Populist sentiments through the media into power. The process of regulating media must be done carefully.

D. Freedman, “Populism and media policy failure” European Journal of Communication
33(6)(2018): 604-618

One Reply to ““Populism and Media Failure””

  1. I definitely agree with you that populism will always get its message across through social media. I’m not sure that the type of policy framework that Freedman suggests is properly equipped to deal with these issues, at least not how he has outlined it. You make a good point about how regulating media must be done carefully, which I also think Freedman agrees with, based on the thoughtfulness of his article where he points out the problems that need to be solved.

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