M&SJ Response 1- Media and Democracy

I personally see quite a lot of themes relating back to the earlier book The Rise of the Blogosphere (RotB). Before I bring up the similarities lets lay down some points from Media and Social Justice (MSJ). To start off I need to talk about the main point, this may just be a personal opinion, but this should be a universal fact. Democracy is only as strong as the voice of its people and the influence and fear/concern the people put into their governments. Our problem today is that most media that seems to make the most impact on people’s lives is commercial media. Commercial media purports itself as “the news that asks the tough questions no other place will” or “our in-depth reporters/analysts covering the events that impact YOU!” We all heard these sayings or other related ideas yelled out to you by some deep voiced man during the loud music and constant spinning images on the screens. But they fail at this, Hamelink argues, commercial media dominates with the idea of sensationalism (MSJ, p. 28). A topic I brought up in several earlier works of mine, media wants the story that’ll get them views and ratings. Even if they must spare details and just show the same image or video with more speculation than analysis. As Barlow states in his book “ignoring politics, for the most part, Bennett was an active seeker of other news, items that would draw enough interest so that people would shell out that coin for his paper,” (RotB, p.68). James Gordon Bennett was a media entrepreneur during the early 1800’s who used media, something at this time was believed to be for the common man and to engage them in political discussion and hold powers responsible, but instead commercialized his work and trumped the public sphere and its needs (RotB, p.67-68).  We have the necessary tools today to make more public media with the ability of input from the common person and an audience to all of any level of enablement (MSJ, p.62-64). But, this does not mean we are capable entirely. There are X different problems given to the authors of this book.
1) Hamelink – our media is ill-equipped to cover human rights violations (MSJ, p.28). Within a democracy, we need to ensure all can access and give input into the public sphere. Those who suffer due to the system they live in need coverage they most times will not get within commercialism. Since commercial media focuses on sensationalism, they refuse to make time for longer, in-depth analysis and documentary. Sometimes these rights infringements are seen as “natural” within the system they live in, for example, large populations livings in poverty. Commercial media does not give human rights violations its own specialized field (MSJ, p. 28-29). Another problem explained my Hamelink is that technology has grown so fast that it passed our mental capacity (MSJ, p.31). Humans can only do so much within their own power and mental might, but we are failing at bringing technology we created, into a much greater focus and purpose.

2) Couldry- our culture creates a “hidden injury” that destroys one own confidence and ability to represent themselves within the public sphere. Close to the naturalism aspect of Hamelink, we see failure within a society attributed to lower position groups as deserving. Even for those people within those lower positioned groups, they believe they do not possess the qualities to be successive like those above (MSJ, p. 47).

3) Clark and Aufderheide- we have the digital tools, but they are not used efficiently. We need government funding of these experiments of expansive public media and they need to be supported by the government and other organizations to create policies to ensure all have access to this media and all can give input into this media (MSJ, p. 62-65).

The only way to get rid of these problems is to change our views within our culture, human rights infringements are not natural, they stem from humankind activity. We need to get new movements to put new policies in place to give the public media the support it needs to be experimented with and changed if needed. But we also need universities and professionals to create fields specifically for human rights and democratic coverage. Without these we are doomed to never catch up to our own technology and democracy itself will dwindle as people are cut off from the means of engaging in this system.


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