peter lindsay

Physics Teacher,


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Is the information revolution polarising western society?

It seems to me that as the young and the computer savvy get more and more information online, the mainstream media (commercial TV Newspapers) are becoming progressively more conservative and facile in their coverage of world events. I assume they consider a balanced point of view is no longer necessary. Perhaps progressive thinkers should make a point of watching conservative leaning news channels. They might be more balanced if they think their audience would like it.

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    Mar 13 2012: Information Revolution is too grandiose a term for the proliferation of digital communication technologies.

    I think network news and mainstream media have always been very crap. Social media is highlighting how restricted their content is.

    My advice to thinkers is to avoid news of all kind. It tends to be mostly about not-news anyway (car accidents, weather and so on).

    Social media is a great way to share ideas and opinions - which, in the loosest definition is information, I guess.

    We are certainly seeing the 'owners' and 'producers' trying their best to keep making money in the old ways and controlling the internet to allow this. Boo, I say.

    The internet is the tool of consumers and so it should stay.
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    Mar 15 2012: The content of the current media culture is often blind to a young person’s cultural,
    economic and educational background. The concept of a media culture has evolved
    owing to the increased volume, variety and importance of mediated signs and messages and the interplay of interlaced meanings. In the world of young people, the
    media are saturated by popular culture and penetrate politics, the economy, leisure
    time and education. At present, the global media culture is a pedagogic force that has
    the potential to exceed the achievements of institutionalized forms of education. As
    Henry Giroux puts it:
    “With the rise of new media technologies and the global reach of the
    highly concentrated culture industries, the scope and impact of the
    educational force of culture in shaping and refiguring all aspects of
    daily life appear unprecedented. Yet the current debates have generally ignored the powerful pedagogical influence of popular culture,
    along with the implications it has for shaping curricula, questioning
    notions of high-status knowledge, and redefining the relationship
    between the culture of schooling and the cultures of everyday life.”

    The concept of media culture encompasses not simply symbolic combinations
    of immaterial signs or capricious currents of old and new meanings, but an entire way
    of life

    in which images, signs, texts and other audio-visual representations are connected with the real fabric of material realities, symbols and artificialities.

    Media culture is pervasive; its messages are an important part of the everyday
    lives of young people, and their daily activities are structured around media use. The
    stories and images in the media become important tools for identity construction. A
    pop star provides a model for clothing and other style choices, and language used by
    a cartoon character becomes a key factor in the street credibility of young people.
    Under the present circumstances, there are few places left in the world where one
    might escape the
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    Mar 15 2012: The definitions and ideas appliedto information
    and communication technologies and the modern media culture are
    examined in the beginning of this chapter. The characterizations
    of media culture are then explored from the perspective of young
    people, and the links between youth and ICT are investigated. The
    dominant cultural logic with regard to ICT is outlined, and different
    forms of the digital divide are presented. Some global aspects of ICT
    use among youth are reviewed, using both primary and secondary
    sources. New forms of youth socialization brought about by the
    emergence of ICT are examined, and the chapter concludes with a
    set of recommendations.
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    Mar 14 2012: I also find that many of the traditional media sources are becoming more conservative, but not all of them. I live in Canada and our public broadcasting (CBC) system is still quite progressive. I think what separates it is the fact that its publicly funded.

    The internet has put a lot of stress on traditional media. Newspapers are struggling, local news television is disappearing and companies are conglomerating.

    As they get more stressed they are becoming more vulnerable to the demands of advertisers, PR firms and big business. At the same time, they have less time and money to do investigative journalism and other quality programming. This I think is the root of the increased conservatism of modern media. As the money gets tighter and tighter, mainsteam media is being forced to resort to PR and "advertisement friendly programming environments" to stay afloat. A threat to pull advertisement is less likely than ever to be stood up against.

    At the same time, people who want to get the word out on progressive issues don't feel the need to get on mainstream media, so they aren't really trying.

    Is it polarising? Maybe. Its hard to say. Often political PR is deliberately polarising anyway, as campaign strategy, so its hard to blame the internet for it.
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      Mar 14 2012: Hey Scott thanks for your input. My initial thought wasn,t so much about the internet being to blame but more about the commercial networks using the fact that one section of society has embraced online information as an excuse to ignore them. This allows them to concentrate on the "conservative" as they feel they have nothing to lose. The problem as I see it is that the commercial viewing audience is no longer even exposed to alternate views. Everything they see on TV agrees with what they already think.
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    Mar 13 2012: I say that we are actually in danger of placing too much importance on onlineinformation. We extoll the virtues of instant information form myriad sources from any point in the world, and we suddenly think that presents to us a somehow non-tainted picture of current events. Not true. Twitter feeds can be just as biased as so called mainstream media. New sources do not supplant old sources. All are suspect, the instantaneous more so,simply for the fact that they are not vetted properly, if at all.

    The mainstream media is becoming more cnservative and facilebecause in the last twenty years there has been an emphasis not in tellingthe news, but in tellingthe public what to think about the news. This did not used to be so. Conservative pundits, who generally deliver easy quips, tend to be more conservative because they can make grandiose statements with entrenched views, which they don't generally feel they have to defend. Progressive points of view tend more toward explanation, which the public finds boring.

    True progressives, who desire to build a wociety which is egalitarian and ensures civil protection for basic needs, should indeed watch conservativenews, if only for the reason that it is always good to understand what a large segment of the population is being force-fed.

    However, true intellectuals have always been suspicious of everything they are told, whether it comes from a newspaper, a magazine, a radio, a computer screen, a phone, or someone's mouth. Now matter how much you want to trust any particular source, always doublecheck your facts, never believe anything at face value, and never believe one type of media has any sort of monopoly on truth, or even morals.
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      Mar 13 2012: You make some very good points. I as a high school teacher, have noticed in the last 5 or so years the development of a facebook driven youth culture in my classes where the majority of 12 to 15 year olds use facebook as a news service. As you say they should ideally use all available media and see if they can sort the "truth" out. They knew Whitney Houston was dead before it was on the news over here but still know little of events like what has occurred in north Africa in the last year. Plus there is the vast amount of misinformation which they lack the experience to identify. In my science class I used to by scared of any statement that started with "But my dad told me". Now this has been replaced with "But I read on facebook"
      In Australia we are fairly lucky when it comes to broadcast tv news. If you look hard enough you can find bulletins from BBC Al Jazeera PBS and the english spoken DWTV from Germany. I find the differences interesting but don't think many people actually take advantage of this resource.