Blog Essay Class 9

This week’s readings were centered on regime change and media; whether how the media has influenced regime change or as in the case of the text by Williams and Carpini, proposed media regime change.  And not just media, but communication.

As Darnton details in his historical account of the media in 18th century Paris, “communication systems have always shaped events”.  Whereas in Paris people used scandalous books, songs and gossip to communicate and spread messages about the King, flash forward and today we have social media.  In his closing lines Darnton wrote “media knit themselves together in a communication system so powerful it proved decisive in collapse of regime”.  Is this not similar to what happened in Tunisia and Egypt?

In the research roundup regarding the Arab Spring and the Internet, one source noted that 60% of the social media active in Egypt and Tunisia share views about politics online.  A majority of the research accounts proclaimed social media as an influential piece of the regime changes that occurred.  However, not all agree, as one referred to the internet as a “rusty bullet” and claimed that traditional media sources were equally if not more important, noting that the Iranian regime used the very social network people were using to recruit and unite, against those individuals.  While Facebook was often a primary source for updates, according to a source within the Twitter, politics and the public research roundup, Twitter is increasingly being used to shape political debates. Interestingly, the conversations on Twitter usually result from larger trends.  It appears to be a source for more opinionated feedback than other social media venues.  Either way, Facebook and Twitter are major news sources for youth, as nearly as many get information from friends and family through those sources as from newspapers or magazines.   Considering this, it’s really no surprise that social media is able to unite people.  There’s a sense of irony in all of this – increased social media use (which often occurs in isolation) is leading to people wanting to work together.  Perhaps because we spend so much time tuned into our gadgets, we are looking for a way to connect.

Darnton noted that when gossip or songs were spread throughout Paris, it wasn’t simply a transmission of information.  People sat and talked and discussed the information.  They grew the culture.  They created what Darnton called collective consciousness.  I don’t know that social media quite does this.  While Twitter and Facebook are designed for two way communication streams, dialogue and discussion doesn’t often occur, and when it does, it’s usually not equivalent to a face-to-face conversation.

Williams and Carpini suggest four qualities moving forward into a new media regime: transparency, pluralism, verisimilitude, and practice.  Transparency is knowing the source.  Who owns the company producing the message?  Are there alterior motives?  Sites like Churnalism are certainly helpful in this aspect.  Pluralism refers to diverse media.  It is important for the media to offer diverse points of view in order to provide a more accurate perspective.  I was unfamiliar with Blogrunner – great site for various news sources! Something that has been a bit of a new challenge for journalists (though it has led to more jobs, apparently!) is following up on accuracy of messages.  This is related to the quality of verisimilitude, the idea that sources take responsibility for the truth claims they make.  While viewers find audience videos to be more intimate and authentic, journalists can’t simply grab something from YouTube and air it.  They have to confirm the accuracy and then get permission to use the sources, two things that take time and manpower.  The final quality for a new media regime is practice.  Not only in the preparation sense, but also in actually doing.

Jessie King

jessking@ufl.edu

DQ: How do you foresee a new media regime taking over?  Would you propose additional qualities to those suggested by Williams and Carpini?

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3 thoughts on “Blog Essay Class 9

  1. Chang Liu
    flyfluency@ufl.edu
    I can’t entirely agree with you that people initially work through social media want to work physically together after understanding each other. Instead, I see more people are willing to work at home and cooperate with their colleagues on the air.
    As for the question that whether there is online collective consciousness, although I agree that the online conversation doesn’t often occur and the conversation itself is not equal to the face-to-face one, I believe that the online sphere does create a set of collective consciousness. For example, lots of new words have been emerged on the Internet and are widely spread across different regions. And people use them both online and in the real world.
    In answering your question, first I am trying to identify the problems that the old rules can’t address. Since more and more individuals and organizations are entering this field, producing all kinds of news, traditional news agencies are having a hard time maintaining themselves in this increasingly fierce competition. As a result, some players are trying some unscrupulous approaches in order to win this game. A typical example is the phone hacking scandal in the UK. Old journalistic principles are not enough to suppress those illegal competitions, and there comes the first quality I want to add to the original four- curbing illegal behaviors.
    Relative link:
    http://bigstory.ap.org/article/guide-britains-new-media-regulation-regime
    The second quality comes as thoroughness and depth. One of the biggest problems social media brings about is the information fragmentation. The shortened news stories cater to people’s impatience at the cost of their accuracy, thoroughness and depth. And the potential risk could be a loss of news merits and functions.
    The third, in my view, should be classification. The line between news and entertainment is blurring. However, not everyone likes the fast-food. There exist more affluent and highbrow readers, who are interested in see some deep thoughts on politics, arts and science. Being too entertainment-oriented and profits driven will definitely make this group of reader unhappy. One way to address this issue is through classification. If there is a clear definition between different types of news with different hashtags, readers can be easily directed to wherever they like.

  2. Hashtags are a great way to classify – if used correctly! In my experience, people tend to choose a mix between hashtags that are relevant and irrelevant (for a laugh or too). While journalists likely are more professional with this, there is still yet no standardized classification system for this. I wonder, do you think if there were people would adhere to it?

  3. In light of the recent news concerning the NSA’s data mining and spying operations, more attention needs to be paid to the new media and specifically social media being used against the users. As you noted, in Iran the government used these networks to track and punish dissidents, but powerful institutions also have to ability to manipulate these networks using more covert, propagandistic methods as well. In order to make sure that these tools continue to be used for responsible purposes the next media regime needs to establish rules concerning anonymity as both a means of protection as well as deceit.

    This ties interestingly into the idea of transparency. Twitter and social media are unique in that they have the potential to both improve and/or destroy transparency in media. The discussions are moving so fast as a result of new media use that it’s difficult to keep track of who is saying what. Trying to pin down any source’s motives becomes nearly impossible unless one is dedicated and knowledgeable in terms of new media use.

    I see the new media regime takeover being fragmented in much the same way that media audiences are becoming fragmented due to increased pluralism as well as a ballooning population of “prosumers” who will all have their own idea of what the rules should be. I would like to see a regime with a more variable power structure that gives citizens and a say in the debate about rules and practices. On the other hand I don’t know that I fully trust the majority of people who might try to influence the new regime. There has already been enough of a breakdown in how power has traditionally been distributed that it makes the new regime even harder to predict or characterize, but the transition moves a little faster every day, which makes for an exciting time to be analyzing the media.

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