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In Debating Democracys The Media Vast Wasteland or New Frontier Jarol Manheim and Douglas Rushkoff present opposing views of the media Both authors raise the questions of what the media represents and what messages the media tries to send to the public Is the medias coverage of events just for entertainment value or do the reports have political content and value Are the viewers capable of distinguishing between the medias glitz and the real facts Do different sources of the media system actually portray different views and stories A key question is how typical objective reporting is If the knowledge can easily be obtained elsewhere it is possible to conclude with pluralists that citizens have the tools to govern themselves more or less democratically If on the other hand there are serious shortcomings one might agree with the power elite camp that the people because they have insufficient meaningful information wield less power than they could and should Manheim claims that the media is not as diverse as it claims to be He states Though for competitive purposes they might have us believe otherwise most American news organizations have a great deal in common with one another they define news itself in essentially the same terms Manheim 1991 He argues that the media entertains the viewers rather than giving them information that is relevant and socially important Manheims view about what the mass media system actually does to the news is similar to what W Lance Bennett lists as the four main media biases fragmentation normalization personalization and dramatization Bennett 1996 These biases are described by Manheim as the media system rendering the content of the news less burdensome by packaging it more attractively Manheim 1991 Contrary to Manheims views Rushkoff looks at how the viewers are able to use and understand the medias messages Rather than viewing the media as a mass system composed of the elite
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