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Normative Theory – Four Theories of the Press


Normative theories were first proposed by Fred Siebert, Theodore Peterson and Wilbur Schramm in their book called “Four Theories of the Press”. At first the word “Normative Theory” was pronounced in USA during the height of ‘cold war’ with communism and soviet. Often it called as western theories of mass media.

normative theory

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A Normative theory describes an ideal way for a media system to be controlled and operated by the government, authority, leader and public. These theories are basically different from other communication theories because normative theories of press are not providing any scientific explanations or prediction.  At the same these “four theories of the press” were came from many sources rather than a single source.  Sometimes media practitioners, social critics and academics also involved to develop these normative theories.

Normative theories are more focused in the relationship between Press and the Government than press and the audience. These theories are more concern about the ownership of the media and who controls the press or media in the country.

The four theories of the Press/Media

Few questions will helps to understand the needs of the normative theories

  1. Is media can published or broadcast any type’s of content will earn more profits in a shortest time? (think about Yellow journalism / Talbots )
  2. Is media can provide any public service even if no immediate profits can be earned?
  3. Is media can participate in any issues and solving the social problems?
  4. Is it essential for media to protect the consumers from the culprits, business frauds and corrupt bureaucrats by serving as a watch dog?
  5. What people expect from media during the time of crisis?
  6. Is media should broadcast the highly rated content even if it has high level of violence?
  7. Is a news paper publishing the unethical business content to encourage the company for its higher advertisements pay?

These questions are linked and concerned about the media day-to-day activities.


  • In 1996, NBC news department accused an innocent man in Atlantic Olympic bombing.
  • In 1998, ABC radio falsely announced the death of the great comedian “Bob Hope” after receiving the error message from associated press.
  • Past few years how wiki leaks releasing the classified documents in online media and its effect.
{ 73 comments… add one }
  • Bisina Pereke September 2, 2019, 5:12 pm

    Normative theories are theories ment for the press and it political modus oprandi : the extent of press freedom and it control, censorship. But if press freedom is still dictated by the elite or its political system then Libertarian theory is of no effect.

  • Richard Robert November 14, 2019, 7:47 am

    I want to get full details about communication theories

  • Muhammad Ashiru babaji December 14, 2019, 12:02 pm

    I like media theory

  • Bella Archibong February 9, 2020, 8:02 pm

    This article is very helpful in the course of my assignment, keep up the good work

  • Chukwuemeka juliet onyinye March 10, 2020, 8:46 am

    I would like to save this in my pdd

  • Javaria Tariq July 7, 2020, 11:47 pm

    This content will really helpful for us if we learn about these theories in detail

  • Muskan Singh September 6, 2020, 5:29 am

    I think you should share more information about press theories or expend those four theories a little bit more

  • anjola November 22, 2020, 10:12 pm

    This helped greatly in my assignment

  • Muhammad Awais January 25, 2021, 5:20 pm

    Thanks for this information, because it is helpful in my assignment

  • Chahinez Beldjoudi January 31, 2021, 11:28 pm

    Our teachers request for other theories than those four… So may any one know them plz?

  • Mathew ijagila Mercy February 1, 2021, 4:05 pm

    It’s really help and I need more on normentive theory of the press.

  • Hameed Ullah Jan shinwari February 11, 2021, 7:33 am

    I have studied the reading which is very informative.

  • Nichole Dlamini December 8, 2021, 7:03 pm

    This is very informative it helped me write my assignment.

  • Sarwan Gul January 31, 2022, 12:46 pm

    This is very helpful, but still not providing the basic difference between these theories, it should discuss that how these theories are different from each other.

  • munyaradzi shoko February 6, 2022, 3:52 pm

    This is good staff, the information helped a lot in my assignment

  • Clash Ely September 14, 2022, 3:55 pm

    I want to know more about normative theory

  • SAKARIA IMMANUEL October 10, 2022, 5:24 pm

    Just to ask; what criticism was leveled against Sieberts normative theory of press

  • Queen T October 13, 2022, 9:11 pm

    Aptly put. Thank you. More lights please. Can you explain also the 2 additional normative theories Democratic -Participation media theory and development media theory?. Thank you

  • Lusungu November 2, 2022, 4:50 pm

    Thank you

  • KABAGAMBE KENNETH December 2, 2022, 8:15 pm

    Waahooo… This is so Helpful … Good work

  • Opeyemi Emmanuel ibukunoluwa January 26, 2023, 8:03 am

    Dis highly impressive,it helped a lot thanks and keep the good work

  • Fahim Shah June 18, 2023, 8:25 pm

    This article is helpful yet it needs to be substantiated with more information and discussion. this website is really a library of Mass media study material and has enormous potential to grow as a media journal. please keep updating the content and allow more participation on your website so that the content is enhanced and more students get helped.

  • Ajit Rajbanshi September 3, 2023, 2:28 pm

    Can u explain, what is the difference between society and association.

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