Theories of journalism and the press span a wide range of issues, topics, and eras. Their origins are as distant as 16th-century Europe and their concerns as contemporary as blogging. What unites this disparate group of theories is their focus on either (a) describing the functions of journalism or (b) prescribing the proper, or normative, roles and purposes of the press as a primary contributor to the processes of citizenship, government, and the preservation of societal stability.

Given the intertwined processes of journalism, politics, and the maintenance of the balance of freedom and order in democracies (or the suppression of freedom and the reinforcement of order in nondemocratic societies), most theories of journalism and the press might be fairly described as theories of the press and society, the press and freedom, or the press and government. Fittingly, many of these theories—particularly the normative ones—were originated not by communication scholars but by philosophers, religious leaders, politicians, government agencies, business and academic elites, journalists, and other media practitioners. While communication scholars have had a hand, particularly since the 1950s, in the formulation, synthesis, and dissemination of journalism and press theories, scholars’ role in theory development has been somewhat less prominent than it has been in other theory categories described in this encyclopedia. Still, despite the diversity of their origins, virtually all theories of the press demonstrate the crucial importance of the theoretical study of journalism to the understanding of the functioning of society and the nature of communication theory.

Littlejohn, Stephen W and Karen A.Floss. (2009). Encyclopedia of Communication Theory.USA:SAGE.643-644

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Edwina Ayu Kustiawan