JAN 10, 2014

"Breaking the News: The Role of State-Run Media" by Christopher Walker and Robert W. Orttung

Forum News

Breaking the News: The Role of Authoritarian State-Run Meida

In the January 2014 issue of the Journal of DemocracyInternational Forum for Democratic Studies executive director Christopher Walker and Forum Research Council member Robert Orttung examine how authoritarian regimes around the world are exerting control over media outlets to circumscribe news and information for mass audiences, promote public apathy, and shape the dominant political narrative in "Breaking the News: The Role of State-Run Media."

Download the full article here [PDF]

"Aside from outliers such as Cuba, North Korea, and Turkmenistan, today’s authoritarian regimes do not seek total domination of all the means of mass communication. What they want instead is what we might call “effective media control”—enough for them to convey their strength and puff up their claims to legitimacy while undermining potential alternatives. Such state dominance—whether exerted through overtly state-run or merely state-pliable media outlets—enables regimes to put progovernment narratives front and center while using the power of editorial omission to limit systematic criticism of official policies and actions."

Related Content:

Watch video from Forum's January 28, 2014 event on "Breaking the News: The Role of Authoritarian State-Run Media."

featuring introductory remarks by

  • Peter Rollberg, The George Washington University

with panelists: 

  • Robert Orttung, The George Washington University
  • Christopher Walker, National Endowment for Democracy
  • Anne-Marie Brady, University of Canterbury, New Zealand (on China)
  • Golnaz Esfandiari, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (on Iran)
  • Sarah Oates, University of Maryland (on Russia)

moderated by Marc F. Plattner, Founding Co-editor of the Journal of Democracy

Read the op-ed version version, "Authoritarian Regimes Re-Tool their Media Control Strategy" by Christopher Walker and Robert Orttung, published in the Washington Post on January 10, 2014.

Visit the Center for International Media Assistance blog to read Christopher Walker and Robert Orttung's guest post about "Authoritarian Regimes and Internet Censorship" on January 27, 2014.

For more resources, see the Forum's Worth Reading (Oct. 31 issue) examining authoritarian strategies towards media control and censorship. ::MORE