Contemporary Media Issues Final Exam – “The New Media Landscape: What Should We Be Most Concerned About?”

May 15, 2010 at 10:48 pm Leave a comment

Opening Remarks of Authors

Robert McChesney
Robert McChesney would say that what we should most be concerned about is how market pressures and interests are encroaching upon professional journalism. As a result, journalism is not doing its job, which is to promote democracy by informing, engaging and inspiring the public. Journalism tailored to market interests is not objective and only seeks to further the aims of those sponsoring it. Also, few alternative viewpoints will be present in the marketplace. McChesney would say that a solution to this problem is to have the government subsidize good journalism; journalism is supposed to act as a kind of liaison between the government and the public.

Many people propose the idea of citizen journalism as another solution, but McChesney would heartily object. Not everyone is a journalist; journalists are trained professionals, and as such, have more authority than your average citizen who is bored and wants to get featured on the news. Professional journalists understand the rules and standards of the industry; they have trained to be objective and credible—these characteristics are not found in your average Joe citizen reporter.

Ken Auletta
Ken Auletta would say that the Internet needs to remain as free and open to everyone as possible. Yes, some people put garbage online, but the best things will rise to the top, just as with Google’s search engine results.

Google is a great company; their goal when they first started up was to just be incredibly useful to people and make things as easy as possible for them…and for free! They did it then, and they’re still doing it now. Their plan worked so well that they’ve launched several other endeavors and are a multibillion-dollar corporation. All because they listen to what their “customers” want, and because they have a motto which seems simple to us, but isn’t so easy to abide by in the corporate world: “Don’t be evil.”

While Auletta praises Google for what it’s done, he does warn that maybe we’re putting too much trust in the organization. They have so much of our information that we’ve voluntarily given them. What happens if a cyber-terrorist attack occurs on Google? How do we know that sometime in the future Google will decide it is in their best interests to now be evil?

Daniel Solove
Daniel Solove would say that the most important issue for the future is the changing view of privacy and determining what is off limits versus what is not. The invention of the omnipresent Internet brought with it issues regarding permanency and tarnished reputations that people can never live down. Nothing can be erased from the Internet.

Generations that grew up without the Internet have an “antiquated” view of privacy; things are either black or white for them with no grey area. These generations see privacy as a right and each person has control over his/her reputation. Generations that have grown up with the Internet have a different idea of what privacy entails. You don’t solely have control over your reputation and your own information. It is generally accepted that if you put something on the Internet, anyone can find it and use it against you. Also, you have to be careful what you do in public, as there are there are now ubiquitous, small recording devices. You never know who may be watching you and it could end up on the Web!

What all this means is that society’s norms will be changing very soon as the “old-school” and “new-school” generations continue to coexist.

Jonathan Zittrain
Jonathan Zittrain is most concerned with the future of generativity. Generative devices allow users to create applications and additional uses for them. Generativity allows a device’s users to collaborate and share information; it encourages creativity, exploration and innovation. The creators of the device can exchange information as well; with a generative device, the flow of information is bi-directional.

Non-generative (“locked”) devices are the opposite; they tend to only have a certain purpose, and do not allow for customization. If changes are to be made, they have to go through the company who created the device. Information only flows one way, from device producer to consumer, unless the producer decides otherwise.

Zittrain fears that the Internet is becoming more and more privatized, and will be controlled by a select few. This means that what can be done on and with the Internet can be controlled; the opposite of generativity. Just because a few individuals have taken advantage of the Internet’s generativity and created viruses and worms shouldn’t mean that the privileges of creation and innovation should be taken from everyone.

Critiques

@McChesney

  1. Professional journalism is not the end all be all; the public has to take some responsibility for its apathetic attitude. Repeatedly in the first chapter of The Political Economy of Media, author Robert McChesney talks about the responsibility of journalism, which is to inform citizens and inspire political involvement, and how journalism isn’t meeting that responsibility. On page 34, McChesney even says, “It [journalism] is arguably better at generating ignorance and apathy than informed and passionately engaged citizens.” The way McChesney rants and raves, one would think that news media is the only way people have to educate themselves. Citizens have to be open to receiving the information journalists give out, and to some degree, they should have the drive to want to learn more.
  2. Citizen contributions can be beneficial; they may have inherent problems, but these can be addressed, and they can be considered a supplement to professional journalism from the people’s point of view. Citizens can be trained in workshops to learn best journalistic practices and techniques. They may not have credentials behind their name, but they can still offer good information and an alternate viewpoint.
  3. Even if the government were to take journalism out of the hands of private companies and subsidize it, journalism would then be forced to tailor itself to the government’s agenda. We’d end up in the same predicament as before!

@Solove

I feel like Solove has given up on the idea of people having morals an decency. His book is all about the negatives that come from people sharing information and videos on the Internet. He doesn’t really talk much about the fact that Internet can cause popularity, bring fame to people, and bring non-malicious entertainment. Think about “The Wedding Dance” or the little boy who performs Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi”. You know what I’m talking about! These hits have several million hits on YouTube and the video’s stars aren’t any worse for it. In fact it is quite the opposite, they have been invited to talk shows, and have had the chance to get their 15 minutes of fame. Yes, the Internet can be used for evil, but it can be used for good as well. You also have to think about it this way: there have always been those people out there who find joy at the expense of others. They did before the Internet through gossip, newspapers, etc. and they’ll do it after the Internet. The only thing that the Internet changes is that these people have a wider audience. But we have to remember like Zittrain, a few spoiled apples don’t ruin the whole bunch!

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    Entry filed under: COM 580- Contemporary Media Issues.

    Citizen Journalism + Broadcast News = The Future of News?

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