A Glimmer of Hope for Mass Media in a Liberal Democracy: istanbulrumazinligi.com

A Glimmer of Hope for Mass Media in a Liberal Democracy: istanbulrumazinligi.com

Vildan Mahmutoglu (Galatasaray University, Turkey)
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0116-1.ch025
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Abstract

Media is an electronic circle that can create spaces for deliberation, interaction, or participation. However, media in the global age is also constructed with the effects of liberal economy that create large companies’ hegemony in media. This economic circumstance creates blocks in media and prevents participation and deliberation of people. The aim of this study is to demonstrate that new media technologies can provide solutions for the problems of mass media in terms of creating rooms for active citizen participation, by providing the outlets for public to participate in. Minority groups have taken advantages of new media technology and have created Web pages to promote their interests and agenda. Turkey is an important example of this phenomenon since several minority groups have created such Web pages. One such group is the Turkish Greeks; by analyzing their Web page, istanbulrumazinligi.com, this study aims to understand their online public sphere, e-democracy, and e-deliberation.
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Introduction

Democracy is a term often used instead of liberalism, constitutionalism, or social equality. Someone can say democracy is majority rules with minorities still having rights. The meaning of democracy has changed over time according to the time and people and states have appealed to democracy to justify their policies and approaches. “Christopher Hollis describes democracy as one thing at Moscow, one at Rome, a third in Sudan and a fourth at home”. In 1975 Shaik Majibor Rahman banned the opposition and strikes in Bangladesh, explaining that it was necessary to “ensure democracy” in the country. Another example occurred in the Philippines, when Dictator Ferdinand Marcos published a book titled “Today’s democracy”, which contained his description of “democracy”. Thus any act or activity can be defined as “democratic” or “non democratic”. The same activity could be called both “undemocratic” and “democratic” (Stronberg, 1996).

This study begins with a short definition and history of democratic development in the West. In the 21st.century, democracy needs tools to exist, such as the media. The tradition of democracy needs public opinion which is based on media in this century. Because media can carry discussions, arguments to the public and cause the formation of consensus of the society. However, today, there are many critics about the media because traditional media organizations are generally established by big companies. Therefore, it causes some suspicious about its impartiality. General public intends to see media near citizen rights and public instead of corporations and dominant ideology. New media technologies have led to new possibilities that have helped remove these problems of traditional media. This study investigates a web-site that was launched by a Greek minority group that lives in Istanbul: istanbulrumazinligi.com. Analyzing the web site, the study examines how a minority group is integrated into to national public sphere that has been shaped by the media.

Minority identities are a recent topic of discussion, because a country’s boundaries are not necessarily reflective of a homogenous culture. Countries are composed of multiple cultures, minority groups and different people. But also they all live in one specific national identity and share a public sphere which is under effects of the traditional media. There are some questions which will be looked for in this study. How do minority groups find a national voice in the public sphere? How can a minority group utilize the media to enhance their position in the political arena? Can new media find solutions to the problems of national integrated public sphere by opening new spaces? The findings will be analyzed in terms of democratic engagement, public sphere, minority culture, e-democracy, and e-deliberation.

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