There is currently an oligopoly of a few media conglomerates that dominate the current mainstream news industry. Though the messages promoted by these conglomerates may differ,(an example would be Fox News versus MSNBC),the shared flexing of their political economy is constant. However, with the rise of the internet the traditional mass media communications process is rapidly hanging.
The fracturing of the American audience is increasing through narrowcasting. Specific niche information sources are taking hold of the American audience. That is apparent when we discovered that opponents in the health care debate often do not identify mutual definitions of terms,(czars is a term heavily used by opponents of health care, but sometimes not even recognized as an issue by proponents). Without mutual agreement or even basic understanding of terms that are used in the course of debate, there can be no honest discourse.
This increased fracturing of the American public is a direct result of the internet. The internet strips much of the political economy from the media conglomerates allowing independent producers to be involved in the mass media communications process.
However, the audience needs to proceed with caution as being partially freed from the influence of corporate giants does not necessarily free the audience from the same propaganda techniques used in our current mass communications model.
Online videos and links are often created as an alternative discourse convention to the hegemony and ideology found in print, television and radio. The internet allows independent producers to hyper-focus on issues and events that may slip through the agenda of media conglomerates. Online videos such as the Tea Party interview video produced by New Left Media are designed to promote the own ideas and values of the communicator as well as shape those of the audience.
Communicators who are independent of corporate oversight have more freedom to load their messages with more persuasive techniques. For example the media producer of the Tea Party video is able to use the platform of You Tube to address the perceived media illiteracy of Tea Party attendees in a more transparent manner. This approach contrasts with what could be considered objective hard news coverage by mainstream media.
Effective media communicators in the post-modern communications model use graphic and digital elements to maximize their effectiveness in spreading their message to the broadest audience in the most efficient manner.
Again using the Tea Party video as an example, the production was simply a result of recorded video. However, the editing and presentation of the video on the You Tube platform was manipulated to promote the agenda of the producers. By using a platform that requires little investment, the communicator maximized the advantages the internet offers independent media producers.
Silverblatt states, “Unlike other mass media, interactive communications is non-linear, replicating the impulses and thought patterns that characterize human interpersonal communications. As a result the individual exercises extraordinary control over the pace of the presentation.”
By incorporating links in the descriptive body of text that accompanies the video the producers are able to steer their audience into related material that further promotes their message.
As stated before the health care debate has spawned an unprecedented onslaught of ideological warfare. These same tools that seemingly liberate the audience from the traditional communications model, may also ensnare the audience into a false sense of independence. By exercising more control over their consumption of media they may be funneling their own media literacy into illiteracy by only consuming narrowcasted media that supports rhetoric and propaganda that aligns with their cultural attitudes (Silverblatt).
Silverblatt, A. 2008. Media Literacy. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers.
9.12 DC TEA PARTY - MARCH FOOTAGE WITH INTERVIEWS. [Online Video Clip]
Available http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lUPMjC9mq5Y, September 14, 2009.