Now that school has started again, my ability to log on and post has more or less gone down the tubes. However, I'll try to get as far as I can in the next three days. I am sitting in my Mass Media and American Democracy class, listening to my professor describe the media as the "fourth branch" of government. This is not the first time that I have heard this speech--it brings me back to the days of AP Government and looking at similar PowerPoints in Eulau's class. In a way, my professor reminds me a little bit of Mrs. Eulau (not quite as fit, but just as excited about democracy in action).
However, the part of this that is more interesting is the fact that I heard this term "fourth branch of government" in one of my classes this week. Yesterday, I was told in my Environmental Law class that the fourth branch of government is not the media, but the governmental agencies that have executive power to enact statutes legislated by Congress. So, what is the 4th branch of government, the bureaucracy or the media? Do we have 5 branches of government? While I have heard this idea of media as a fourth branch more often than the bureaucracy, the latter seems more concrete as an idea. Perhaps my exposure is more a result of my interests up until this point rather than the actual popularity of one idea over another.
Are there 5 branches of government? Can you think of agencies as an extension and a media at the same time, or are they mutually exclusive?