This paper discusses the extent to which the press functions as a public forum for contemporary ideas and social debate. A comparison of environmental news in newspapers from Australia, Belgium, France and the United Kingdom underlines how each newspaper has its own "culture" linked to its own priorities. This culture largely defines what comes in the news. The existence of different cultures might suggest that there is a very diverse press, but the scope of ideas circulated by the press stays well within undefined yet clear boundaries. Only independent newspapers, such as Le Monde and The Guardian, sometimes venture beyond these boundaries. Differences in the portrayal of governments in environmental reporting were also evident in this study.The Australian media adopts a very cynical attitude towards government, which is no more conducive to a democratic debate than is the servility displayed by some European papers towards particular government bodies or industry.
Recommended Citationvan der Mensbrugghe, J., Limits on the press's function as a public forum: An international study of environmental news, Asia Pacific Media Educator, 6, 1999, 6-23.