The impact of the press on the society is unprecedented in our days. The media can act as a tool of democracy by highlighting all sensitive issues in a society. At the same time, it often serves private business and political interests of media owners, and promotes biased views of events, persons, and ongoing processes.
First of all, the freedom of the press helps bring to light cases of political and/or business corruption. In Albania, the European country whose status of press freedom is “partly free,” the improvement in the situation with press freedom in 2006 enabled it to play an outstanding role in exposing corruption in the government.
In one such case, in September 2006, an investigative TV show aired several taped conversations where one government official was pressuring two nephews of Albania President Alfred Moisiu to persuade their uncle to sack the attorney general. The latter was accused of political corruption. The effects of this information were stunning on the society, especially that for many years bribery had remained an inseparable part of the country’s realities while Albania ranked No.1 in Europe with regard to corruption. Although the press revelations did not change the situation in the country at once, they lay the foundation for further steps to fighting the problem in the Albanian society.
In another case the press acted as a tool of libel, when it deliberately spoilt the reputation of the Pussy Riot trio involved in a local anti-government protest in Russia in 2012. In Russia, all the most influential TV channels are owned by the ruling elites. Coverage of Pussy Riot’s protest by the three most authoritative official channels Perviy Kanal, Rossiya 1 and NTV as well as by a range of mainstream (yet, government controlled) media presented the girls as “devils,” “whores” or “demons.” Comparison of the photos done by independent media and pro-government newspaper Trud differ by the former’s humane representation of girls as young, intelligent protesters, who face all charges with dignity and by the latter’s representation of the girls like half-beasts (in a cage) and insane individuals.
Overall, this paper has illustrated how freedom of the press can help expose political corruption in a country as well as how press can act as a tool of libel as well as defamation and deliberate damage to persons or organizations’ reputation.
- Talanova, Irina. “What does the coverage of the Pussy Riot story in Russian and UK news media show us about the public sphere, and the type of stories that are in the public interest, in each country?” N.d. Web. 6 Feb 2016.
- Worldaudit.org. “Press freedom.” N.d. Web. 6 Feb 2016.