Beyond Hallin/Mancini: Comparative Readings of the Lebanese Medai System
The focus of my dissertation is on the reportedly “disoriented and fragmented” Lebanese media system and to what extent this system “fits”, if at all, under any of the three “ideal types” put forth by Daniel Hallin and Paolo Mancini in their seminal book Comparing Media Systems. This endeavour will use the Hallin and Mancini models as a scholarly springboard in an effort to move these models beyond the established democracies of Europe and North America. This research responds to a recurring call for comparative work, and particularly for the application of the Hallin and Mancini model to other non-Western media models. Yet, this comparative approach, when applied to the non-Western world, may threaten to inadvertently do what Downing, Park and Curran have warned, which is universalizing the Western democratic experience. In applying the model to the Lebanese media system, this research will also assess the complex dimensions developed by the two scholars. It must be noted that Hallin and Mancini repeatedly, almost apologetically, acknowledge the limitation of this system and explicitly admit that restricting themselves to Western Europe and North America was a limitation and that the models should serve as an inspiration for a process of re-modelling by either adapting their models to a certain context or the creation of new models. This study proposes to do just that by collecting empirical data through interviews and the available literature. Quantitative research may be used, where necessary, to reveal information such as the partisanship of media audiences, horizontal vs. vertical relation to audience and whether entertainment unifies a largely “balkanized” market. The work will begin with a chapter on comparative media analysis and the Hallin and Mancini framework as well as the debate surrounding these models. This will be followed by a methodological outline of the study and an assessment of the Lebanese media and political system vis-à-vis the Hallin and Mancini “ideal types”, dimensions such as the development of media markets, the variable of political pluralism, the degree of development of journalistic professionalism and the degree and nature of state intervention. This set of indicators will also be amended or adapted to fit the Lebanese context en route to constructing a new model that will be tested at a later stage on another similar system.