The following is intended as contribution to the discussion on Democracy and Media in the digital era,

by attempting to identify possible threats to democracy and mapping possible influences of media, ‘old’ as well as ‘new’ or digital, against the threats. The threats identified are not orthogonal but are linked and overlap.

It represents solely the opinions of the author, presented in a somewhat structured way.

 

Threat to democracy

Characterization

Mitigation mechanisms

Elected dictator

‘the people’ versus the parliamentary democracy rules

Constitution, guaranteed, effective checks & balances, and an independent judiciary

Intimidation / civil unrest

‘public anger’ against politicians & judges

Constitution, early reaction/protection

Election funding

May shape elections

State funding and/or strict rules

Corruption

Affects executive, legislative, judiciary branches

Checks, whistle-blowers’ protection

Populism

Perceived problems with proposed ‘simple solutions’

Independent fact finding & research

Party discipline

Party discipline: ethical, legal, constitutional?

Enforcing constitutional rules

Lobbying

Dependency on information and resources from interested parties

Funded fact finding & research

‘Decisive vote’

Overstating and misrepresenting the ‘one vote’ importance

Factual reporting, not sensational

 

Threat to democracy

Printed media:

Sensation press

Printed media:

Serious press

Public

Broadcasters *)

Commercial

Broadcasters

 

‘social media’

Elected dictator

Increases risks

Decreases risks

Decreases risks

May increase or decrease risks

May increase or decrease risks

Intimidation / civil unrest

May increase or decrease risks

Decreases risks

Decreases risks

May increase or decrease risks

May increase or decrease risks

Election funding

Increases risks

May increase or decrease risks

Decreases risks

May increase or decrease risks

May increase risks

Corruption

May help fight corruption

Decreases risks

Decreases risks

May increase or decrease risks

May decrease risks

Populism

Increases risks

Decreases risks

Decreases risks

May increase or decrease risks

May increase or decrease risks

Party discipline

Increases risks

May increase or decrease risks

May increase or decrease risks

May increase or decrease risks

May increase or decrease risks

Lobbying

Increases risks

May increase or decrease risks

May increase or decrease risks

May increase or decrease risks

May increase or decrease risks

‘Decisive vote’

Increases risks

Decreases risks

May increase or decrease risks

May increase or decrease risks

May increase or decrease risks

 

*) Public Broadcasters: here used for organizations that are operating under a framework including

   (at least partial) public funding while guaranteeing political and financial independence

   e.g. BBC, FR2, ARD, ARTE, etc.