Theories of the Press: Authoritarianism vs. Libertarianism   3 comments

Each country’s mass media system is determined by its political philosophy. These controlling philosophies have even started since then without people noticing or knowing it. From the earliest civilizations up to now, various controlling philosophies are playing a great role in a certain nation’s political and even mass media system.


When I was a kid, I thought that everything wherever part of the globe is for free. However, later in college, I slowly understand things the way they should be. I realized that the God-given freedom is not that free everywhere and not that free all the time. In fact, you cannot have that freedom easily even in countries with democratic form of political system.


Since the earliest times, the control of leaders which led to the oppression of the people has been demonstrated. The concept of authoritarianism developed throughout history wherein people in various societies lived under the authority of scrupulous people. Even English monarchs in the 15th and 16th century, when the printing press was realized, compelled restrictive censorship on publishers through a series of limitations such as licensing, taxation, and seditious libel. Actually, these forms of limitations are not bad at all because these serve as gatekeepers for some irresponsible printed materials.


Conspicuously, even up to now, lots of people are still living under the authoritative form of government system wherein the government has the absolute control over the media and that they use media for propaganda purposes. Sometimes it’s a funny thing to know that in this type of political system there are no marketing strategies being used, only but just threat – morose threat.


However, given the ubiquitous state of internet today, does any nation have the power to apply the authoritarian form of mass media system? As what Rupert Murdock has been quoted, “We are already in the midst of technological storm.” For me, the capacity of the authoritarian form of government to have the control over the media is questionable, the fact that everyone is already accessible to the internet, as well as people are already critical thinkers. What do you think?


The offshoot of authoritarianism is the Soviet-Communist theory. Let’s compare and contrast the two theories first. Basically, both theories have control over the mass media; nevertheless, there is one important difference. In authoritarian, the media is recognized as a different body from the government while in Soviet-Communist theory; the press for all matters and functions has been a part of the state. There is no such term as repression of the press in this system, for the press is the state. However, the question is, how does the government make profit out of it?


During the Age of Reason in 17th century, another theory, Libertarianism, evolved in United States initiated by the forerunners John Milton, Thomas Jefferson and John Stuart Mill.


Libertarianism grants a totally free press upholding that people are inherently rational truth-seekers. Here in the Philippines, just like in U.S., journalists and broadcasters have this freedom of expression as stated in the First Amendment (“Congress shall pass no law…abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.”). Though sometimes it leads to some libel and slander cases in the part of journalists but they have this freedom to defend themselves. We have what we call the privileged communication and fair comment on matters of public interest. For me, Philippines is a perfect place to exercise libertarianism. As future journalist (hope so), I consider my freedom of expression as my best weapon to influence others through writing. My freedom is my life!


As future journalist, we should also have this social responsibility. A responsibility to eradicate corrupt, irresponsible or immoral actions that may bring impairment to the community, its people, or the environment before the behavior takes place. A true journalist must have this passion to serve and provide good service to the people. Sometimes, the liberty of having this freedom led for some to abuse it and use it in several negative purposes and intentions.


There are both advantages and disadvantages between the authoritarianism and the libertarianism as what I have discussed. The amount of government control depends upon the relationship between the government and the governed. Generally, the controller – controlled relationship is natural for humans. Yes, it is!



3 responses to “Theories of the Press: Authoritarianism vs. Libertarianism

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  1. Good!

    John Ryan Recabar
  2. Journalists are free to express themselves, but if they abuse this, it is already a violation of Libertarian principles, i.e. it is the right of everyone to do whatever they want except to infringe upon the rights of others to exercise the same right.

  3. the press shuld have d freedom 2 serve the people but at the same time shuld not be given the full freedom because they will definitely misuse the freedom given to them.

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