Claude-Jean Bertrand (ed.) (2003). An Arsenal for Democracy. (Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press). xi + 320 pp. ISBN 1-57273-426-4, $34.50 (paper). Bibliography, profiles of contributors, index.
Readers of MEDIA ETHICS magazine should be well aware of Claude-Jean Bertrand's assiduous promotion of M*A*S-Media Accountability Systems. An Arsenal for Democracy pulls together much of what Bertrand has been compiling and writing about for several years. The purpose of the book is "to publicize a whole armory of available democratic means to improve news media. It provides data and informed opinion on major M*A*S" and serves as an extension of his earlier Media Ethics and Accountability Systems (2000).
The book contains 29 chapters (plus a 12-page conclusion and strong argument in favor of expansion of M*A*S around the world). Only seven of the chapters (and the conclusion) were written by Bertrand himself, an illustration of the extent to which consideration of M*A*S has expanded in the past few years.
The current volume is much more than a list of M*A*S. More than a third consists of an introduction, a discussion of principles and rules, and a close look at the most prominent media accountability system, the "press council." Some of the 10 chapters in this section of the book were written by such authors as Jim Richstad, Clifford Christians, Benoit Grevisse and Kenneth Morgan.
Part IV deals with other M*A*S, such as ombudsmen (with chapters by Theodore Glasser, Al JaCoby, and Mario Mesquita), journalism reviews (with one of its two chapters by Charles Klotzer), and monitoring and militancy (chapters by Jean Schwoebel, Carl Jensen and Eric Favey). A fourth section of this part, on training and research, includes chapters by Arnold Ismach, Michel Mathien, Michael Souchon and Philip Meyer. The final section of this part describes M*A*S in Japan (by Takeshi Maezawa), the United Kingdom (Michael Bromley), Germany (Barbara Thomass), France (Bertrand), Sweden (Lenhart Weibull & Britt Borjesson), Israel (Yehiel Limor) and Estonia (Urmas Loit).
Bertrand does not consider M*A*S as the only condition for good (a term that is discussed throughout) mass media. He believes that free enterprise and state regulation are the other legs of this stool-but are not sufficient in themselves. With his strong belief in the efficacy of nongovernmental media accountability systems, Bertrand warns that neither the profit motive nor governmental regulation can avoid attempting to warp mass news media for their own purposes, rather than for the benefit of the society at large.
This is a book that any serious scholar in the field of journalism needs to read. M*A*S are an ever-changing work in progress (note how quickly the number of journalism reviews in the U.S. dwindled, and how the concept of a "press council" is much more universal than its practice), and is a factor that needs to be considered whenever the relationship of news to society is involved.
The above article was published in Media Ethics , Fall 2004 (16:1), pp. 40-41.