SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY THEORY:
The social responsibility theory is an outgrowth of the libertarian theory. However, social responsibility goes beyond "objective" reporting to "interpretive" reporting.
The Hutchins Commission on Freedom of the press was established in 1942 and released a major report of its findings in 1947.The Commission members were sharply divided between those who held strongly libertarian views and those who thought some form of press regulation was necessary. Those who favored regulation were fearful that the marketplace of ideas was much too vulnerable to subversion by antidemocratic forces; most of them were impressed by the Chicago School.
As the Commission stated in 1940:
The emerging theory does not deny the rationality of man, although it puts far less confidence in it than the libertarian theory, but it does seem to deny that man is innately motivated to search for truth and to accept it as his guide. Under the social responsibility theory, man is viewed not so much irrational as lethargic. He is capable of using his reason but he is loath to do so.
It is the press, therefore, that must be the "more alert element" and keep the public informed, for an informed populace is the cornerstone of democracy.
Today's large media conglomerates, however, may not function naturally as a public forum, where all ideas are shared and available. "The owners and managers of the press determine which persons, which facts, which versions of these facts, shall reach the public," writes the Commission.
In this same light, Siebert, Peterson and Schramm warn:
...the power and near monopoly position of the media impose on them an obligation to be socially responsible, to see that all sides are fairly presented and that the public has enough information to decide; and that if the media do not take on themselves such responsibility it may be necessary for some other agency of the public to enforce it.
The Canons of Journalism adopted by the American...