Edited by Stephen P. Banks
Chapter 9: Press Professionalization, Corporate Rationalization and the Management of Dissent
David S. Allen INTRODUCTION The press has long been understood as a liberating and democratizing instrument for society’s dissenting voices. News reports often carry the most dramatic and extreme expressions of dissent, and dissenters strive to create events that will gain media attention in recognition of the inﬂuence of news reporting on public opinion. However, it is well established that certain voices, be they dissenting or not, have an easier time gaining access to mainstream news reports than other voices. And even when dissenting voices do gain access, the way the media frames those voices inﬂuences the potential impact they have. This chapter argues that two connected movements help citizens understand how the press functions to manage dissent within society: press professionalization and corporate rationalization. Rather than being a way of insuring diversity, professionalization has become a way of instituting sameness while allowing corporate values such as eﬃciency, proﬁtability, popularity and individualism to be transferred from the economic sector of society to the public sphere. This process, referred to as corporate rationalization, establishes an elite, technocratic press that is more concerned with social control than allowing people to have access to dissenting voices. In doing so, professionalization tends to separate the press from the public rather than making the press a vital part of public life. In discussing the press, I refer generally to mainstream news production and distribution. Recent developments in the alternative press and new media hold promise of countering the dynamics and problems...
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