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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

media: shifting the debate « Previous | |Next »
January 12, 2010

We live amidst a digital revolution and, as we adapt to its ever deepening effects, we realize that this revolution is continuing. As an editorial in The Australian says:

Fifteen years ago, mainstream access to the internet through the then-revolutionary Netscape browser banished the orthodoxies around the collection and distribution of information. Analysts argued that the net was as transformative as steam engines and rail transport had been in the industrial age. It looked like a big call back then, but in hindsight such predictions undervalued the impact the internet would have beyond the world of business and the extent to which it would alter perceptions of time, distance and knowledge. A decade ago, few appreciated the way the net would destroy traditional business models yet at the same time spawn a suite of new products and applications.

The implications of the digital revolution are increasingly beginning to sink in--the format of journalism and potentially other media is moving away from the page-centric world we all grew up reading and writing and to a reinventing of text-based journalism for digital platforms.

We are also experiencing a far-reaching convergence of technologies: eg., newspapers are both print and digital; art galleries are starting to make films and the digital, and the erosion of distinct media policy regimes about print media, television and the internet. Newspapers are becoming multimedia operation whilst internet companies are becoming content providers.

The media debates are increasingly marketed by a conflict between between public broadcasting and commercial media (Murdoch's attacks on the ABC), the shift in regulation as pay TV becomes more prominent and a national broadband network is built, and the consumer resistance to control of the public discourse on media by media corporations.

How can we citizens contribute to the debate dominated by the centres of media power and the ‘recipe knowledge’ of the mainstream media with the emergence of the knowledge economy. Philip Schlesinger in The Politics of Media and Cultural Policy in Media LSE indicates one way that policy wonks have done this. He says that:

Influencing the terms of debate is difficult because the shaping of policy has become both more competitive and more complex. The multiplication of cultural and communication management consultancies, the expansion of special advisers in government, the growth of in-house research teams inside communications regulators, the development of specialist media and communications business journalism - all of these have recast the space available to the academy to make its views known and be taken seriously. They have reshaped the public sphere and the intellectual fields within it.

Schlesinger argues that the policy field is dominated by idea of the creative industries, creative economy and making creativity profitable.This discourse holds that cultural and communications industries designated ‘creative’ (ie., dynamism, growth, talent formation and national renewal) are the driving force of a new economy and a rival in importance to the financial sector.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 10:52 PM | | Comments (4)


News Ltd reckon that technology (electronic readers or the "cool new toy") will help to save their newspapers. They hope that mobile e-readers will help reinvigorate the newspaper and magazine industry by providing publishers with a new avenue to grow readership and charge consumers for content.

News Limited signalled its loss-making newspaper The Australian will charge for some content on digital platforms by the end of the year. The national broadsheet is to be spun off into a new division in anticipation that it will lead the push to putting quality content behind paywalls.The areas to be charged for are specialist niche sections, including business and IT, across multiple platforms including paid subscriptions to iPhone applications.

My guess is that the amounts people are prepared to pay will have only a "negligible" impact on overall industry revenue, and it is the revenue stream that is declining.

Advertising was always the revenue stream, and that's not going to come back no matter how you package the content or whether you charge people to access it, via whatever gadget you care to name.

Google's nexus phone is a platform designed to get more people online more often. The more people online surfing the net the more money that Google makes from online advertising.

That requires telcos such as Telstra, Virgin and Optus to shift to very generous data quotas.

Information was always considered power and understandably those who had information did not share it with others lest they loose their upper edge. However, with the internet, the balancing act was performed and information reached to the grassroot levels across the globe. Further, internet shaped public opinion especially through social media networks. It is sad that attempts are being made to defeat the very purpose through state machinery in certain countries as evident from the current China-google stand-off. Hope better sense prevails.