#3561 Created 02/12/2014 Updated 06/03/2014
liberal histories of individual media are woven together they thus provide a coherent narrative in which the core media system became free over a period of three centuries.... the second theme of this narrative is that free media empowered the people. this is worth presenting in some detail since it is the crux of the liberal case.
three and a half rival, though overlapping, liberal interpretations.
The Whig version: an increasingly independent press subjected authority to critical scrutiny and represented the view of the public to parliament and government. It became the fourth estate, the voice of the people in the corridors of power.
A second interpretation argues that the leading section of the press represented primarily the expanding groups of the new commercial and industrial society. it gave their reform organizations the oxygen of publicity, sustained an independent political agenda, exerted strong pressure for further democratization and helped to alert the landed elite to the need to make major concessions order to preserve public order.
The third version....argues that the ancient regime (before democratic reform) was well entrenched; that the landed elite enjoyed a long period of political dominance after 1832; and that the real structure of power in nineteenth-century Britain was only slowly modified by the extension of the franchise and economic change. In this stable context, the press contributed to the judicious maturing of the democratic system by relaying the concerns of pressure groups to government and enabling society to commune freely with itself.
but then, falling editorial standards and the rise of the press barons.