Russell (et al.) compares elite media and institutions with bloggers and ponders the following question: “Do bloggers, with their editorial independence, collaborative structure and merit-based popularity more effectively inform the public?” (Reader, page 136). Do you agree? Use examples to illustrate your point of view.
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What is better, a few owners controlling the few voices or millions of voices all screaming at once? That is essentially the question that you face when comparing elite media institutions with the entire online sphere when considering the prospect of informing the public.
In one corner there are the dubious ownership issues. The Rupert’s and Packers of this world with politics and personal agendas, not to mention money making at the core of all news and entertainment.
In the other corner we are faced with anonymous voices far-reaching and vast with their own politics and personal agendas, but perhaps just less money at the core of their information.
But to be less pessimistic lets consider this comparison a little further. What is being asked here is that with the benefits that bloggers have, as Russell explains; independence, collaborative structure and merit-based popularity – can they inform better than traditional media sources (Russel 2008, pg 135 – 137)?
My answer to this, in a completely unconstructive manner is quite simply
There is such a plethora of information on the web that it is impossible for there to be one outright answer to such a question, some bases of information are more creditable and receive greater “traffic” (Russel 2008, pg 135 – 137) but this is merely a symptom of all information and media and is certainly not a new development from online media – when some are trusted and popular some must subsequently not be.
What can be said about online media is that more voices exist or at least these voices are reaching more people – to what extent are they truly and widely accessible is another question as the online sphere although more inclusive is still very much a 1st world gentrified concern, similar in its problems to Habermas’ public sphere (established and maintained by a specific community).
Despite this we can see the positive element that such a winder spectrum of information delivered from blogs ahead of conventional media can provide for marginalized or specific voices, concerns and interests for there is far greater room for these issues to be addressed more fully (Russel 2008, pg 135 – 137). Subsequently it can be seen that it is not the mainstream, those who still find their home amongst the pages of popular newspapers and tabloids that see any benefit from the blogosphere.
Where once there was no space in conventional media for in depth discussion of each news issue and the idea of doing so would have been considered ludicrous, today, as long as there is one voice willing to type or Skype away that news will be shared.
One of the biggest issues in today’s media is that; yes there are multitudes of blogs out there dealing with niche entertainment and news yet it is inherent still in our culture that we have serious trust issues with the internet. It is still the central news sources most of us turn to confirm facts despite our knowledge of media ownership and agendas. Even down to the point of education where although most university degrees are built upon Wikipedia research it is still and may never be considered a credible source because it is not “traditional media”.
Russel, A; Ito, M; Richmond, T; Tuters, M (2008) ‘Culture: Media Convergence and Networked Culture’ Networked Publics. Cambridge MIT Press.