THE CRITIC’S CORNER Consolidating the Role of the Fourth Estate in Disaster Work

March 2006 (VOL. 24, NO. 1)

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Reflections on the role and function of the press, radio, and television in times of public emergency, led to a consideration of the platform of critical independence occupied by the news media as the ‘Fourth Estate’ since its emergence as an important constitutional component of society in the late 18th century. The result showed that while the original raisond’être was to provide a reputable outlet for criticism of the policies and practices of the agencies of power in an emerging democratic state, vested interests have long compromised the noble purpose. The suggestion is that were the media to develop and consolidate its post-disaster work, it would improve the service it gives to the community and at the same time begin to reclaim the high standing it once had.