Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Critical Analysis - Analysis of The Public Sphere

German philosopher Jürgen Habermas defined the Public Sphere as: "a network for communicating information and points of view".

The public sphere is in Hambermas’ words: "Made up of private people gathered together as a public and articulating the needs of society with the state". Habermas argues that the self-interpretation of the public sphere took shape in the concept of "public opinion".

This concept of “public opinion” could arguably be seen as the emergence of Journalism. The early growth of Journalism can be traced back to the 17th century when the first news sheets appeared during the English Civil War.

During the English Civil War, the spread of trade required accurate information for traders. This information was often found through ‘gossip’ in taverns and coffee houses (also referred to as a ‘coffee house society’. This initial growth of the public sphere was also given the Greek notion of the ‘polis’ and ‘agora’, (meaning city and market place).

The press emerged by taking advantage of peoples ‘gossip’ and lust for information by creating newssheets, which therefore created income for the press.

The press was later seen as the 4th estate as it allowed the trading class to take away power from the 2nd estate (the aristocracy).

Newspapers today and in their early forms both used the inverted pyramid structure of the 5 W’s, (Who, What, Where, Why, When and also How) to effectively inform their readers. Without this information the story would not be news and would instead be seen as ‘public opinion ‘or ‘coffee house gossip’ as it was known in the 17th century.

In my view the growth of the public sphere has in modern times created mass media corporations such as: ‘The Times’ and ‘The Independent’ for instance which satisfy the cravings of a nations fuel for news. In turn these media corporations are creating a huge financial gain and by doing so becoming the lynchpin of society.

Word Count: 318

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