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Social Responsibility Theory


In the mid 20th century most of the developing countries and third world nations have used this social responsibility theory of the press, which is associated with “the Commission of the Freedom of Press” at United States in 1949.

social responsibility theory

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In the book “Four theories of Press” (Siebert, Peterson and Schramm) it’s been stated that “pure libertarianism is antiquated, outdated and obsolete.” That paved way for replacement of Libertarian theory with the Social responsibility theory.

Social Responsibility Theory

Social responsibility theory allows free press without any censorship but at the same time the content of the press should be discussed in public panel and media should accept any obligation from public interference or professional self regulations or both.

The theory lies between both authoritarian theory and libertarian theory because it gives total media freedom in one hand but the external controls in other hand. Here, the press ownership is private.  The social responsibility theory moves beyond the simple “Objective” reporting (facts reporting) to “Interpretative” reporting (investigative reporting).

The total news is complete facts and truthful but the commission of the freedom press stated that “No longer giving facts truthfully rather than give a necessary analysed or interpretative report on facts with clear explanations”.

The theory helped in creating professionalism in media by setting up a high level of accuracy, truth, and information. The commission of press council also included some tasks based on social responsibility of media, which are as follows:

  1. Formulate the code of conduct for the press.
  2. Improve the standards of journalism.
  3. Safeguarding the interests of journalism and journalist.
  4. Criticise and make some penalty for violating the code of conduct.

The theory allows

  1. Everyone to say something or express their opinion about the media.
  2. Community opinion, Consumer action and professional ethics.
  3. Serious invasion of recognized private rights and vital social interests.
  4. Private ownership in media may give better public service unless government has to take over to assure the public to provide better media service.
  5. Media must take care of social responsibility and if they do not, government or other organisation will do.

Critics of Social Responsibility Theory

  1. Avoids the conflict situation during war or emergency by accepting the public opinion.
  2. Media will not play monopoly because the audience and media scholars will rise questions if media published or broadcast anything wrongly or manipulate any story.
  3. Media Standards will improve.
  4. Media will concern all class audience rather than focus on higher classes in the society.
  5. Media may work autonomously but certain thing is controlled by the government and other public organisation.
{ 96 comments… add one }
  • adediji Moses Olumide August 9, 2018, 11:14 pm

    Social responsibility theory is the best of the normative theories. It holds the journalist responsible for all publications made. It is not enough for the journalist to be absolutely free. Certain responsibilities must be attached to such freedom. As such, he must be socially responsible to the environment within which he or she operates.

  • Adekunle Mumin October 2, 2018, 6:22 pm

    What are the solutions to those problems?

  • manish raghav October 22, 2018, 9:16 pm

    can you tell me please what are the examples of social responsibility theory?

  • Eidan Khan November 25, 2018, 9:48 pm

    I think this normative theory is better than other threes. Bcoz in this theory media has to publish anything before proved.

  • Danicapurca December 10, 2018, 8:44 pm

    Ahm what is the different between libertarian to social respinsibility…??

  • Mayengo isaac February 15, 2019, 4:44 pm

    Thanks, it’s very educative

  • Lukman Muhammad April 21, 2019, 7:37 pm

    What are the examples of this theory?….What is the difference between Social and libertarian theory of press?

  • Saman May 28, 2019, 4:46 pm

    Is it fulfilling the requirements of community journalism?

  • Shrobona Sengupta June 2, 2019, 10:44 pm

    Which of the normative theory India is practising right now and why?

  • Mohsmed Gbla June 12, 2019, 7:08 pm

    How can social responsibility theory is applicable in Sierra Leone?

  • Mariama Precious Hallaby June 18, 2019, 3:25 pm

    How is this theory applicable in Sierra Leone

  • Abdulrazaq Sunusi July 18, 2019, 9:07 pm

    what are the example of social responsibility theory

  • Precious Boboye October 4, 2019, 1:58 am

    Does China operate under this theory

  • fakazamusic November 6, 2019, 7:57 pm

    please who propounded the theory

  • Fitness blog November 7, 2019, 12:49 am

    Social control is the best way to follow for media organizations. In fact now many countries are opting for this approach because of the balance it offers.

  • Shedrack November 8, 2019, 5:29 pm

    Which countries practice these theories and why

  • MADHURIMA MUKHERJEE November 19, 2019, 11:09 am

    In Libertarian theory, press freedom is ultimate with no check of authority and the option of feedback mechanism from the audience is also absent. But in case of social responsibility theory, external checks would prevent media from putting forth manipulative stories and sensitive information which might pose a civil threat, while respecting individualism and promoting pluralism.

  • Florence December 4, 2019, 1:02 am

    what are the assumption of social responsibility theory

  • Khaled Alyami December 31, 2019, 4:43 pm

    Thanks for sharing this theory.

  • Richard May 28, 2020, 8:27 pm

    I’m looking at the topic: The effectiveness of Investigative Journalism in Combating Corruption in Emerging Democracies. What appropriate theories of the media can be used to support it? Thank you.

  • Njambi Gaitho November 25, 2020, 2:18 pm

    How can journalist apply social responsibility media theory in countries that have autocratic governments??

  • Namakula December 16, 2020, 11:45 am

    Good and helpful. Thank you so much

  • Beauty John April 19, 2021, 3:13 pm

    Adedeji Moses Olumide, you’re absolutely right

  • Beauty John April 19, 2021, 3:17 pm

    Richard— Social Responsibility Theory is perfect for your paper

  • Mohamed Sahr April 24, 2021, 8:37 pm

    As of now in my Sierra Leone, the ruling government has of recent repealed otherwise deleted the premodial criminal libel law and it has now become civil. This perilous law was persistently serving as a threat to journalist in carrying out their profession. In other words, ffreedom of expression and of the press is at work and taking an amazing journey in Sierra Leone. In particular, the country is now practicing the social responsibility theory.

  • OKORONKWO VINCENT May 27, 2021, 11:52 pm

    The Social responsibility theory is great. It’s also very helpful to the society. Nice one.

  • Mary M Dargbeh June 1, 2021, 1:52 am

    This is really educative
    Thanks very much.

  • OGBU FAVOUR EBUBE June 13, 2021, 2:40 pm

    Which of these normative theories does Nigeria practice and why

  • Levi Kiptum Songok October 15, 2021, 12:32 pm

    The Normative theory is a very efficient theory as it is fair

  • Elvis December 6, 2021, 7:18 pm

    I think that the social responsibility theory is the best as during conflict situations,the media will have to remain neutral hence there will be less chaos

  • Hassan destiny February 1, 2022, 4:40 pm

    What are the functions and performance in conflict resolution in Nigeria citing recent examples

  • Justina Misam Saidu February 3, 2022, 10:42 pm

    What is the best theory that can back up the topic,The role of book publishing in promoting reading culture.

  • Anurag Kothari February 8, 2022, 5:28 pm

    I didn’t understand the logic behind critics part as avoiding a conflicting situation is good so why it is included here?

  • Shuaibu Tiga March 27, 2022, 3:13 pm

    Thanks! But how is the theory applicable during conflict

  • mack chris July 19, 2022, 11:46 pm

    please share some solutions or beneficial step to solve it.

  • Ruth March 7, 2023, 2:41 pm

    Does this theory support the cooperation of media organization in Nigeria

  • Taniah Mbewe March 21, 2023, 11:44 pm

    I have understood now the things that were hard for me to understand, simple and clear explanations in this section were easy for me to take points. THANK YOU

  • Samson Glory May 8, 2023, 4:57 pm

    With the Topic; Green Journalism and Environmental Development: A content Analysis of Environmental News Coverage in Nigerian Newspapers. What is the best Theory for it please?

  • Abdulrahman Sumah May 26, 2023, 11:07 am

    How this theory make different in the community or country

  • Samuel May 30, 2023, 11:29 am

    What is strength and weakness

  • Blessing July 27, 2023, 4:27 am

    Do Nigerian journalists operate in this theory?

  • Lewis banda August 11, 2023, 3:08 am

    Perfect notes for examination

  • Roxy September 4, 2023, 3:33 pm

    I guess the social responsibility theory Is the same thing as the libertarian theory Because the libertarian theory gives freedom to individuals to express their ideas and also the social responsibility also gives freedom to the press

  • Sophie Merengo September 23, 2023, 6:28 pm

    May some one more question information about the social responsibility for media theory

  • Sophie Merengo September 23, 2023, 6:28 pm

    May someone add more information on social responsibility of media theory please

  • Boo Ali November 18, 2023, 11:01 am

    What is the difference between Social and libertarian theory?

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