Ethics and Media Culture

4 The ‘fourth estate’ and moral responsibilities

Andrew Edgar





The notion of the press as a fourth estate, that provides a check on the abuse of government power, is a cornerstone of liberal accounts of the press. In a society that is increasingly self-conscious of its pluralism, the promotion of this traditional conception of the fourth estate becomes ever more urgent. Hence, the thesis to be presented in this chapter is that the overriding moral responsibility of the ‘fourth estate’, by which is understood both print and electronic news media, is precisely a responsibility to the maintenance and development of vital public debate, and thus to public involvement in politics (in the current argot, ...

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