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Describing journalists and the news outlets for which they work as members of the fourth estate is an acknowledgment of their influence and.
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In Europe, going back to medieval times, the people who participated in the political life of a country were generally divided into three classes or estates. In England they were the three groups with representation in Parliament, namely, the nobility, the clergy, and the common people. Some other group, like the mob or the public press, that had an unofficial but often great influence on public affairs, was called the fourth estate.

Fourth Estate | Democratizing News | Official Site

In the 19th century, fourth estate came to refer exclusively to the press, and now it's applied to all branches of the news media. These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'fourth estate. Send us feedback. Fourth day. Fourth of July. See more words from the same year. More Definitions for fourth estate. See the full definition for fourth estate in the English Language Learners Dictionary.

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with fourth estate. What made you want to look up fourth estate? Please tell us where you read or heard it including the quote, if possible. Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way. Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free! When equal coverage leads to uneven results. It's now in the dictionary. You all would not have guessed some of these. Some imitative words are more surprising than others.

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Most of these programmes belong to the category of "sado-maso TV" - the participants must accept they are to be humiliated, they have to satisfy lower human instincts such as gloating and voyeurism; for their moment of TV fame they must do ghastly things, eat worms, dive into snake-infested swamps or wade through shit. In the "democratic age" news and information have been transformed. The way politics is covered has changed radically. Papers don't "report" news, they quite often present it according to their preferences and prejudices. The growth of columnists has led to the birth of a "Commentariat".

It contains a few excellent and analytical minds, but all too often reasonable, balanced voices are drowned out by journalists who seem untainted by facts or deeper knowledge but replace this with gleefully presented prejudices. A lot of modern political journalism ignores context and complexity, presenting everything in black and white, while the nature of politics most of the time is a balancing act between contradictory interests and demands. No surprise, then, that politicians are losing control over the political agenda.

The much-maligned spin doctor was an attempt to win back the initiative. It failed a long time ago. News has become more superficial and sensational.


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The need for images and pictures is greater than ever. News is too often degenerating into "disastertainment". Public service broadcasters are not immune to this trend. But more has changed than just the extent of coverage. Sensationalism and oversimplification are affecting the output of all media.


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  8. There is less room for a balanced approach, for analysis instead of going for the crass headline or extraordinary story. The merciless hunt for weaknesses and inconsistencies of politicians and other public figures has become prevalent. Furthermore, the rhythms of politics and the media are drifting apart. After the end of the great ideological divide, politics is more often than not undramatic, complex, not easy to understand and therefore more difficult and boring to report. Quite often results of political decisions, in education or welfare, can be judged only years after implementing them.

    A crisis in the fourth estate

    That is the opposite of what the modern media want. They have a hour mindset, shaped by the demand for ever shorter soundbites.

    They are impatient, short-termist, they want results here and now. Media language has changed, too. What we are observing is an adjectival degradation. Every report, coming from inside governments or institutions outside is, if it contains some form of criticism, therefore "damning", "devastating" or "scathing". Warnings, which most of the time were not heeded anyhow, are "stark", differences of opinion between politicians of the same party are "dramatic splits", developments are "alarming" - the consumer of the media is confronted with a permanent linguistic overkill.

    Official language is evolving in the opposite direction, it is becoming more sanitised, cautious, bureaucratic and politically correct. All this has contributed to change democratic politics for the worse. The electorate has become hostile and distrustful of the media and politicians alike. Trust has broken down threefold, between people and politicians, media and people, journalists and politicians, with the latter now observing each other with deep distrust and mutual antipathy.

    A vicious circle has established itself. Journalists claim that the political culture is not appealing to the public; driven by commercial considerations and market pressures, the media are therefore reducing their political coverage even further. The chances of the public receiving the information they need to participate in the rituals of democracy are declining even more.

    TimesTalks - "The Fourth Estate" Screening & Talk

    The Phillis committee, set up to look at government communications, has confirmed this bleak outlook.