Media Governance? Basic Perspectives


This is an introduction to Week 2 of ICM 835.

As this is our first content session, here is a road map to how we can understand the basics of MG.

We start from the perspectives that most often use the very term Media Governance, that is, fields that are interested in policies (whether their implementations, e.g., laws = legal studies, or policies as a larger part of societies = social scientists, esp. political scientists and political economists). The look is often that of the macro-level — societies — but implications pertain to the meso level (individual organizartions) as well as the micro level (us individuals).


Discussion on the definition of this buzzword by Karppinen & Moe, in their critique of ‘Media Governance’:

‘Media governance’ has been one of the most influential notions in the field of media and communication policy in recent years.

Media governance as an umbrella term … “covers all means by which the mass media are limited, directed, encouraged, managed, or called into account, ranging from the most binding laws to the most resistible of pressures and self-chosen disciplines.”

As such, the term encompasses both policy and regulation, to depict “the sum total of mechanisms, both formal and informal, national and supranational, centralized and dispersed, that aim to organize media systems according to the resolution of media policy debates” …

Scope of governance:
  • Macro-level – societies
  • Meso-level – organizations
  • Micro-level – individuals

AS WELL ASScreen Shot 2015-01-30 at 11.57.38 AM

  • Local
  • National
  • International
Governance and its Off-Springs – the Policy Perspective
Dr. Des Freedman of Goldsmiths College, London.

Dr. Des Freedman of Goldsmiths College, London.

As Des Freedman (Week 2 readings) notes, governance is the umbrella concept under which policies (specific to different aspects of our media and communication landscapes) are formed. Regulation, then, forms a specific set of tools to implement policies.

Philosophies – The Policy Perspective

Phil Napoli (Week 2 readings) highlights the three main foundations, or views, or philosophies that tend to inform media governance and policy-making. They are not necessarily mutually exclusive, but in real life, one of them tends to dominate in a society:

  • Free Speech
  • Public Interest
  • Marketplace of Ideas (see the video):
Key Areas – The Policy Perspective

Phil Napoli’s text also highlights the basic areas of governance:

  • Content
  • Structure
  • Infrastructure

[Minna’s note: in the mass media era, the idea of diversity was at the core of media governance debates: diverse voices as represented in media contents and diversity of ownership vis-a-vis monopolies. The Internet has brought us questions of infrastructure and access, but also brought back issues of censorship and surveillance in the era of seemingly infinite amount of content and content-creators.]

Assignment of Week 2

Due 2/6 by midnight. Individual assignment, submitted via email to

In our mediated world many unexpected, not-so-evident issues relate to media governance. Also, there are many contradictory developments that policy-making needs to tackle.

On one hand, we hear about our digital footprints that will exist online until eternity. The EU and Argentina have instituted policies about ‘the Right to Be Forgotten‘, i.e., the right of a citizen to demand that information about him/her must be erased (see the fact sheet about this recent case Google vs. a Spanish Citizen — the right is by no means without controversy.)

Screen Shot 2015-01-30 at 1.13.15 PMOn the other hand, we have the problem of the Web erasing itself, as depicted in this recent article by the New Yorker – for you to read for Week 2 assignment. I chose it precisely in that it describes a complex, many-sided, and not-so-evident media governance issue — that has several serious implications regarding societies and democracy.

Your task is the following:
  1. Read the above mentioned article.
  2. Read the texts shared on BlackBoard / Facebook, marked W2 (by Freedman & Napoli).
  3. Reflect on the NYer article from a policy-making & legal perspective:
    • Identify a key governance issue/problem/dilemma mentioned in the article (you can be broad or focus on a specific issue discussed in the article);
    • Identify its scope or scopes – can you see what it might mean for a society, for an organization, and for an individual (lay person); can you see whether it’s more of a local, national, or international question;
    • Think of the key area or areas the issue addresses; and
    • Come up with a policy suggestion as well as a proposal for a concrete regulatory measurement

Write a short, 1-3 paragraph account of the above and email it to me.

This assignment means getting our hands dirty right away; diving into the practice of analysing governance and translating it into policies and regulation during our 2nd week. Please dare to try, even if it feels foreign at this stage. For this reason, your submissions are individual and emailed to me directly. I will share a compilation of good responses (anonymously) with you after 2/6.

Teaser for Week 3

Media governance can also be looked at from a more cultural perspective — socio-cultural norms and values inform governance and policy-making. Bree, Andrew, & Frank pointed this out already on our Facebook conversations. Week 3 will be about exploring this aspect.

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