Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
 DoDo's points are important ones in understanding the less-than-monopolistic control over mass media in, for lack of a better term, "the West".

 I especially agree with his insight that the mass media powers really are now a part of the élite political structure rather than determined outsiders who remain critical of the government in power, regardless of its party.  And, moreover, this place, this rôle of theirs in the political power structure, while not new, is now something that is more taken for granted even among the professional journalist class.  Many in private--and even some in public would admit: of course we're part of the power structure."  The term "the Fourth Estate" was coined to designate the press in general as a main player in the tripartite power structure: executive, legislative, and judicial.

 In another sense, though, I believe your assertion is basically correct: (everybody knows that in modern world any ruler has to control information flows and in Europe and America ruling elites tightly control mass media).

  This requires some explanation as it goes very much against the beloved assumptions of the vast majority of people in western democracies.  

  We can quibble about what exactly "tight control" means but, at a fundamental level, the point which we are not comfortable addressing is this: what would any of our western democratic governments do about the supposedly sacrosanct freedom of speech and of the press if the day should ever come when genuine and strong democratic impulses arose and challenged directly and seriously the basic operational control which a relatively small minority of exceptionally wealthy people are able to consistently exercise while leaving in place sufficient outward trappings of democratic governance to obtain the vast majority's passive and tacit acceptance of the political system's manner of working?

  My view is that, except in a very few isolated incidents, this situation has never actually come about, and so the only honest answer is that we really don't know.  We do know that when, over our history, there have been various isolated instances in which popular sentiment has coalesced into movements which appeared to pose a real potential for challenging the existing power structure, the reaction of official government has typically been as swift and as decisive and forceful as those in office deemed necessary-- [note: I have not verified these examples, they're off the top of my head] cf: Haymarket riots; Ludlow (? n) mine massacre http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ludlow_massacre ; Bonus Army movement, under, I believe, Hoover http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bonus_army; ]

  Thus, in its most basic sense, I have to agree generally with your view expressed as

 " everybody knows that in modern world any ruler has to control information flows and in Europe and America ruling elites tightly control mass media"

with the only debatable matter being where that very variable factor, "tight control" happens to lie at any given moment.

  These days, there is little need for tight controls to be exercised since so much of the major and so-called "quality press" (of whatever medium) are so pathetically obsequious toward their counterparts in the political power structure.  

It's important to keep in mind, however, that this swinging pendulum of the press's contrariness or obedience can return toward the contrarian pole; the absurdly compliant press of today could conceivably recover some of its self-respect and start making life much more difficult for elected and appointed officials--as looks a bit more likely now to happen in the short term.

"In such an environment it is not surprising that the ills of technology should seem curable only through the application of more technology..." John W Aldridge

by proximity1 on Mon May 8th, 2006 at 09:04:55 AM EST
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