Implementation of democratic mass media
February 4, 2009
The aim of this post is to provide some particulars for the proposal for democratic media which I made:
Using public funds, “media sections” (TV and radio channels, newspapers, book publishers, etc.) are created and sustained. The media sections are controlled by citizen-editor boards, a role that would rotate within the entire population. Each citizen-editor board has a budget and complete control over a section – i.e., over a certain part of the public media – in the same way that present-day editors and media outlet owners have today.
The main features that I suggest are:
- People interested in assuming the role of a citizen-editor (CE) will put their names in a pool of candidates. CEs will be chosen at random, and serve for a period of, say, 4 years, during which they will function as editors one day a week. They will be paid for their work at, say, the 75% percentile of the national income distribution (with possible adjustments for geographical and other circumstances). The law will mandate that employers accommodate the arrangement. CE-duty terms will be staggered (25% are replaced each year) to provide institutional continuity.
- The role of the CE is similar to that of the various decision makers in current mass media channels: movie producers, newspaper and book editors, etc.
- Each CE will have a certain amount of financial resources allocated to him or her. The CE can dispense with those funds in any way that he or she sees fit, as long as it is a legitimate expenditure for the production of communication through the democratic media channels.
- Each CE will have a certain fraction of media exposure unit allocated. A media exposure unit may be embodied as, for example, a certain weekly column space in a newspaper, a certain monthly air-time on a TV channel or a mass distributed book. The allocation to each CE is fractional in the sense that it can only be used when combined with other fractional allocations (say, 10 fractional allocations make one whole unit of media exposure). Thus, although editors can make individual decisions as to how to spend their financial resources, they need to cooperate with other editors in order to actually put communications through the media channels.
- Editors, working in mostly in groups – it is expected – will contact and contract with people who will produce “content” (i.e., communications of various types). The content producers may be anyone, but it is expected that there would be a fair amount of professionals among them – people who devote a large part of their time to producing content and who therefore have certain expertise in certain aspects of content production. These would include reporters, technical teams of various types, actors, entertainers, screenplay writers, authors, etc.
- All the content produced will be in the public domain, and, although it will be made public through widely circulated channels at certain times, it will be available at any time on demand.
- Raising additional funds for the production of content for the democratic media will be considered corruption.
- Any additional decision making roles that are necessary for running the media (e.g., setting up new media channels, funds allocation to the various channels, setting general rules or making broad policy decisions that are not directly content related) will also be distributed by lottery.
- Regular monitoring of the level of interest of the public in various content units will take place. The data collected will be publicly available.