This paper is a summary of two articles that vastly discuss mass media in the Asian continent. The first part discusses the relationship between journalism and Asian values. The second part clarifies whether the relationship between the press and democracy are directly linked.
The purpose of this article is to determine whether journalism in Asia is guided by specific Asian values or not (Massey & Chang 2000). According to the article by Xu, principal Asian values develop from the fact that there exist a shared continental identity and core beliefs that are unique to the region (Massey & Chang 2000). One more characteristic feature in relation to Asian values is the Eastern idea of communalism; this idea is opposed to individualism of the West (Massey & Chang 2000). The relevance of communalism as an Asian value is that unity is important to a developing region. A shared identity and core beliefs ensure unity among Asian people, hence fuelling development. Massey and Chang (2000) concluded that harmony and supportiveness were the two dominant values, according to their research. In addition, it appeared that some southern Asian countries (Malaysia and Singapore) embraced these two values either (Massey & Chang 2000). They also found out that Asian journalism was influenced by western practices; for example, negative coverage of foreign countries and the use of English language in their local newspapers.
In his article titled “Democracy and Press: The Reality and the Myth,” Merill (2000) clarifies a few assumptions that people make about the press and democracy. The main purpose of the article is to enlighten people that the press plays a very little role in expanding democracy. The media prioritizes other functions: entertainment, advertising, the elite class positive propaganda, sports, negativism, and sensationalism of events to make profit. Thus, their main concern is not to enlighten people and expand democracy (Merill, 2000). Merill goes further to state that, if the press were a real representative of democracy, the citizens would be electing the news editors themselves as well as actively participate in news making process instead of leaving the task to journalists.
According to the article, since the extent of the freedom of the press should be directly proportional to the level of democracy of a certain country, the press itself is not the true reflection of democracy, following its major priorities and the fact that its editors are not elected by the citizens. As a result, the Asian countries are still dragging in terms of democracy and their citizens rely on the press for information and enlightenment in order to expand democracy. However, the article is slightly biased because the author claims that the media are mainly interested in making money and sensationalism of events, which, in real sense, contradicts the ethics of press which is partiality and objectivity.
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Asian journalism is influenced and guided by Asian values. Asian press and journalists practice a socially responsible journalism which is core to the development of Asian countries. Freedom of the press is also not a clear indicator of the democracy level. This is because, instead of aiming at expanding democracy, the Asian press prioritizes profit making and entertainment.