(Liberal) mass media and the (multi)party system in post-communist Lithuania
(European Humanities University in Vilnius, Lithuania)
ABSTRACT: The aim of this paper is to describe and assess the political parallelism pertinent to the post-communist Lithuanian mass media; and to show potential risk (for democracy, civil society) of the absence of the political parallelism. Referring to the concepts, communicative democracy is defined as free, open and democratic communication organized around three equally legitimate public sphere actors – politicians, journalists and public opinion, and populism is understood as good, entertaining and effective communication with people, eroding basic functions of the political parties (institutionalization of ideological conflicts) and politicians (representation). The paper provides insights about the dangers to quality of democracy which the free mass media might present when it gets utterly away from political parallelism. Special attention is placed on the tendencies of media personnel to be active in the political life. The (universal) contemporary mass society phenomenon, coupled with the (post- communist regional) ill-structured of the post-communist political field and (local) specific traditions of the Lithuanian political culture and public sphere, gave birth to the peculiar absence of the mass- media and politics parallelism in the country. In the conditions of the relative absence of foreign ownership of the mass-media outlets in Lithuania, the local media barons are able to produce and impose their own public-agenda, which hampers development of the civic-minded public sphere and definition of the social and professional responsibilities of the journalism as a profession and as a social category. The Lithuanian mass-media and government relations evolve along the lines of the zero-sum game: they seek to control each other, and at the same time try to avoid being controlled by the other, while any other pattern of inter-relations does not appear as viable and appropriate.