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The news media and the state are locked in a battle of wills in the world's emerging democratic states. It is a struggle that will determine whether or not democracy flourishes or withers in the 21st century. Using a number of case studies, including South Africa, this book evaluates what is at stake.





The hypothesis of this book, that the rapid democratisation process experienced by many “third wave” nations has ushered in a particularly virulent form of invasive state, is grounded in three different, personal experiences. The first was my decade-long involvement as a political reporter covering South Africa’s extraordinary transition from racist apartheid authoritarianism to democracy. The second was an eight-year period during which I worked for the South African state advising the presidency, various government departments, parliament, the cabinet, officials and non-state actors on matters of democratic consolidation and governance. The third was the time when I lived, worked and carried out research in mainland China. All three experiences have had a direct impact on how I have come to view the state and the nature of power and their impact on people, institutions, the media, democracy and society at large.
Adrian Hadland

Emerging Democracies


1. Dancing with Democracy

In just over ten years between 1990 and 2002, 52 countries moved from authoritarianism to electoral democracy (Freedom House 2013), while 140 of the world’s almost 200 independent nations held multiparty elections (Dyer 2004). This surge of democratisation, which Huntington (1996) termed the “third wave”1, has exerted a profound impact on media-state relations in the world.
Adrian Hadland

2. Key Features of Media-State Relations in Emerging Democracies

Since 1945, the number of states in the world has tripled (Van Creveld 1999, 332). Though there is great variety among these new states, the overwhelming majority of them would describe themselves as either democratic or in the process of democratising. These states are extremely diverse and possess a multitude of varying histories and contrasting structural dynamics. In this chapter, I argue that there are important differences between media-state relations in these new, emerging democracies and those in more established, mature states. The collective impact of these differences is the creation of an environment in which the state has been encouraged to extend its power and influence over the media, often to the detriment of democratic consolidation.
Adrian Hadland

3. Media-State Relations in South Africa

South Africa’s parliament sits at the foot of Table Mountain, a brisk, gently uphill stroll from the Atlantic Ocean along one of Cape Town’s principal thoroughfares, Adderley Street. The walk, often accompanied by a jostling at the hands of the prevailing south-easterly wind, is redolent with the history of the city, of South Africa and, indeed, of the world. It was here, near to where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet, that European powers first established victualling stations at the southern tip of Africa in the 16th century en route to the spices and riches of the East Indies. It was these same riches that powered Europe’s various revolutions, catapulting it into global mastery and its nation-states into the accepted pattern of human social and political development. It was here that Africa’s indigenous peoples were first systematically colonised and subjugated. It was also here that the Dutch East India Company, the world’s first corporate state, ruled with an iron fist over slaves and free citizens alike.
Adrian Hadland

4. Media-State Relations in China

While one would be hard-pressed to call the People’s Republic of China an emerging democracy, or even a new state, there is much that can be learned from China’s experiences and from its extreme stance both on statism and on media-state relations in the 21st century. China does still consider itself a developing nation and it increasingly has direct engagement with many of the world’s third wave countries, usually through investment and trade. A Chinese consortium, for example, recently acquired 20% of South Africa’s biggest newspaper company (Hasenfuss & Mantshantsha 2014). A close look at China serves to highlight some interesting patterns that China has in common with the emerging democratic countries, as well as illustrating an important model for contemporary state intervention.
Adrian Hadland

The Acquisitive State


5. The Rise of the State

Earlier in this book (Chapter 2), we saw that emerging democratic states of the third wave display several important characteristics that clearly differentiate them from mature democracies. These include the rapidity of change experienced by new states and the resulting disconnect between law and practice, the deliberate concentration of power, the concerted struggle for control of the national discourse, the impact of elites, and the power and size imbalance between most new states and more established nations. These notable characteristics are sufficient to argue that emerging democratic states require a less generalised approach, in particular when it comes to analysing media-state relations within them.
Adrian Hadland

6. The Acquisitive State

The state is like a mirror that society holds up to itself, Ralph Miliband (1969) evocatively suggested almost half a century ago. “The reflection may not always be pleasing, but this is the price that has to be paid… for democratic, competitive and pluralist politics” (p. 4). If, as Miliband contends, states are mirrors, they are reflecting subjects of an ever-increasing variety and complexity. There are far more countries in the world than there were barely 50 years ago. Immediately after World War II there were 74 sovereign states in the world (Sørenson 2004, 5). By 2000, this had soared to 192 (ibid.). In 2015, there were about 196, depending on one’s definition of a sovereign state. The exact number is muddied by legal definitions and by foreign policy diktat. Some nations, for instance, which claim an autonomous, sovereign identity (such as Taiwan, Kosovo or Palestine) are not recognised as such by the UN, while others (such as the “Special Administrative Region” of Hong Kong) are given independent state status by the National Olympic Committee.
Adrian Hadland

7. Contesting the National Discourse: Power, Ideology and Media-State Relations in the 21st Century

The notion of power is fundamental to understanding the functioning and ambit of the emerging democratic states as well as of the media in those states. It is precisely in the realm of power that media and state clash and contest. At stake is dominance over what can be termed the national discourse: the overarching, normalised narrative of civil, political and economic interrelations as well as the rights and obligations that underpin them. A discourse of this kind, argues Muchie (2004), has an intrinsic power to frame, set parameters, suggest agendas, help select policy options and determine “us” and “them” (cited in De Jager 2006, 64).
Adrian Hadland

8. Conclusion — The Fall and Rise of Journalism

In his plea for support of a model of public service broadcasting, the esteemed media scholar James Curran (2002) called for the abandonment of our “ 17th century fears of the leviathan state when absolutist, arbitrary authority was an ever-present threat” (p. 227). Instead, he writes, we should recognise that a democratic state, elected by the people, is able to extend the sphere of information and debate “in the interests of democratic self-rule” (ibid.). Sadly, Curran’s assumption that the emerging democratic state in the 21st century is such a benevolent and progressive force is, I think, overstated. I have seen this first hand, as earlier chapters attest. This overexpectancy regarding the democratic state is particularly evident beyond the Western and European models of democracy, out in the global South where nations are still young and their historical legacies are riddled with conflict and division. But even within the privileged cluster of stable democratic states, at this time of global political and financial insecurity, the signs of responsible benevolence are ambiguous.
Adrian Hadland


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