This chapter outlines the ideal type of society and polity postulated by liberal democratic theory, and discusses how the media contribute to the smooth functioning of such societies. It identifies the defining characteristics of a liberal democratic regime in the following terms: constitutionality, participation and rational choice. A further limitation on democracy is often argued to be the absence of genuine choice, or pluralism. The chapter presents some of the main criticisms of the media's role in modern democracies, and assesses the impact of digital media on the democratic process. The explosion of participatory digital media is on the face of it a welcome enhancement of the democratic functioning of the public sphere, since it allows unprecedented levels of public access both to information flowing around the internet, and to the means of production of public discourse through blogs, social media posts and other forms of digital speech.