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The Space of OpinionMedia Intellectuals and the Public Sphere$
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Ronald N. Jacobs and Eleanor Townsley

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199797929

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199797929.001.0001

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The Future of Opinion

The Future of Opinion

(p.236) 9 The Future of Opinion
The Space of Opinion

Ronald N. Jacobs

Oxford University Press

Chapter 9 places empirical findings about mediated deliberation in the context of research about the declining quality of mediated public communication. It suggests that larger questions about critical rationality are best posed to the space of opinion as a whole, rather than to specific opinion formats. True, a plethora of new opinion formats offer new definitions of autonomy and influence than those traditionally offered by objective journalism. These formats tend to be partisan and reductive, as they seek a new kind of influence in politics rather than autonomy from it. But it is important to understand that newer formats have emerged in a densely interconnected space of opinion which is characterized by increasingly intertextual processes of monitoring and criticism that occur across and between formats. In this context, it behooves those media intellectuals who seek to defend traditional journalistic virtues to provide meta-commentary to identify their own enemies in the world of punditry, and to clearly justify their own vision of what news and opinion should be. In the end, the degree of critical rationality in the opinion space depends not on the arguments that are made within a single forum, but rather on the ensemble of spaces, and on the nature of critical dialogue that takes place between them.

Keywords:   mediated deliberation, democratic deliberation, critical rationality, opinion format, format proliferation, audience fragmentation, partisanship, influence, autonomy, complexity

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