Expertisation and Democracy in Europe. 2017, 171-191
In this chapter, we critically scrutinize two interrelated responses to the challenges of representative democracy: the new ideology of professionalism and the ideology of de-professionalised participation. Both variants are characterized by their disregard, if not even outright rejection, of the role of public intermediaries and wish to either entrust political decision-making to experts or to empower the popular voice directly. Against these epistemic and populist solutions, we wish to emphasize the key role played by the media and by journalism in reconciling knowledge with democracy. Taking stock of the rich literature on democracy and mass media and drawing on extensive empirical research, we trace the development of pre-digital mass media which introduced a distinction between ‘fact based’ news and ‘opinion based’ news, thus a distinction between the media for the communication of knowledge and the media for the communication of opinion. We then discuss the effects of the internet on democracy, from the perspective of the media as producers of political knowledge: do online media have the capacity to reconcile knowledge and opinion through innovative ways of public intermediation and enhanced participation of the public? In the second part of our chapter, we illustrate the ways in which political institutions make use of digital media to generate public knowledge (the reconciled version of mediated knowledge that is neither fact-based only nor solely opinion-based) and democratic legitimacy by discussing the case of EU institutions.
This is an Accepted Manuscript of a book chapter published by Routledge in Expertisation and Democracy in Europe on 27.11.2017, available online: http://www.routledge.com/Expertisation-and-Democracy-in-Europe/Gora-Holst-Warat/p/book/9781138288232