Mediain the Online Age
1. Introduce and contextualise Media in the Online Age (some relevanthistory but with emphasis on the presentwith
contemporaryexamples from the pastfive years – more recentthan that the better). At the beginning ofthe essayyou will be
where you reference The Past.
2. Incorporate two theoretical references earlyon to give academic legitimacyto the response.
3. Explain the two media you will be focusing on and your main case studies. Options include music downloading and
distribution, online magazines, the film industryand the internet,online gaming and virtual worlds e.g. the decline ofthe
console and the proliferation of online gaming,online news provision and declining printcirculation, online television and
various forms of online media production bythe public or a range of other online or social media forms.
4. Develop your case study analysis butmaking sure to cross reference with other media texts (and forms) and to incorporate
theoretical debate, argumentand your own opinion wherever possible. This will be where you reference The Present and it
will form the bulk of your essay.
5. Discuss The Future: you can speculate abouthow your chosen examples mightdevelop in the future e.g. through Web 3.0.
Again, try and map theory onto future developments and also personal opinion.
David Gauntlett: an OCR favourite who has written extensively on digital and social media and who has explored the
conceptof the Prosumer – the blurring of boundaries between audiences who consume media,e.g.audiences watching a
film and those who produce a fim and upload it onto their YouTube channel or Vimeo or Flickr for example (Vimeo and
Flickr have a stronger filmmaking ‘community’).Gauntlett argued in ‘Making is Connecting’ there is a shift from a “sitback
and be told” culture to a “making and doing” culture.
Andrew Keen: provides an alternative argumentto Gauntlett suggesting thatthis ‘long tail’ of independentprojects simply
creates ‘a world of amateurs’ where the qualityof media production is undermined bythe prosumer.
Chris Anderson: popularised the theory of the long tail which when mapped onto online media consumption suggests there
is profit in selling “small volumes ofhard to find items”. Niche products e.g. independentfilms have an enormous untapped
audience which can now be reached digitallythrough Web 2.0. As a business model Amazon is a good example of this and
can also applyto social networks and viral marketing.
Michael Wesch: describes YouTube as a cultural phenomenon and explores how peer-to-peer sharing has transformed
media consumption butalso identityand self-identity.He is interested in ‘digital ethnography’, the study of the effect of new
media on human interaction.See ‘Web2.0…The Machine is Using Us’.
Henry Jenkins: disputes a dominant reading (see Stuart Hall) that internet communication has reduced social skills by
stating that instead,through interacting with media production and consumption through Web2.0 users develop more skills
through active participation and multiple communications and as resultare more media literate. In his book, Convergence
Culture Jenkins looks athow the convergence of media forms should be understood less in terms oftechnologyand more in
terms of what people are doing with them.This can be cross referenced with Gauntlett’s theorythat the media effects debate
is less relevantnow and younger media consumers and much more active and media literate and are less likelyto be victims
of passive consumption. Online media presents two distinctarguments in this regard.
David Buckingham: is interested in the use of technologyin everyday life, access to this technologyand the consequences
for individuals and social groups.One of Buckingham’s areas ofconcern is children and media access and use,particularly
in terms ofidentity – internetidentity through online media consumption is an ideal opportunityfor students to discuss their
own examples and experiences.
Martin Barker: explores the notion and that online digital media and its effects is the new moral panic (this argumentcan be
used in conjunction with Jenkins and Gauntlett).
Clay Shirky: theories work well in conjunction with Chris Anderson – he writes on the social and economic effects of internet
technologies and is a proponentof crowdsourcing and online collaboration.He argues all forms ofmedia are migrating
Marshall McLuhan (Global Village)
Douglad Rushkoff (‘programme or be programmed’)
Whenintroducingtheoristsintoanessayyou needtodiscusswhethertheirideasare convincingorunconvincing
linkingthe researchtocase studies –do your case studiesreinforce orchallengeyourargument?Whatare the
positivesandnegativesof whatthe theoristsuggestsandare the ideasstill relevantorhave theybecome out-
dated?Recognisingthe phenomenal pace of technological change encourage youtochallenge theoryasoftenthe
passage of time makessome observationsobsolete.Understandingthe past,presentand future elementsof the
topic,try and understandwhatthe theoriessuggestmayhappeninthe future intermsof how mediaformsand
industrieswill develop –traditionallymediainstitutionshave meantpassive consumption.Finally,andcrucially
encourage yourself toavoidthe downloadingof theory; theoretical debate andanalysis must relate to the
question.Itis too easywitha topiclike Mediainthe Online Age tolose essaystructure.
We Mediaand Democracy – Many of the theorists for Mediain the Online Age can be usedfor We Media
Other theoriststo revise:
Noam Chomsky (The NecessaryIllusion.Case Studies:Cambodia/EastTimorandNYTimes)
Karl Marx (Elite/oligarchycontrollingthe media.Top-Downpower)
Evgeny Morozov(The NetDelusion.Case Studies:NSA/GCHQSnooper’sCharter,WikileaksandEdward
AmericantheoristHenryJenkinshaswrittenonconvergence andthe digital revolutioninhiscurrentbookquoted
above Convergence Culture (2008) and ina formerbook: Fans,BloggersandGamers (2006). He askshis readersto:
“imaginea world wherethere are two kindsof media power:onecomesthrough media concentration,whereany
messagegainsauthoritysimply by being broadcaston networktelevision;theothercomes through grassroots
intermediaries,wherea messagegainsvisibility only if it is deemed relevantto a loosenetworkof diversepublics”
Thisexplainsone of the benefitsof newmediainthe democraticexpansionof ideasandknowledge,andhowthe
Internethasgainedmediapowerthroughoutthe 21st century,andhow bloggersare now the “minutemenof the
digital revolution”.This isthe ‘we media’where we the publicare notjustconsumersbutare alsoproducersinthis
We are now all able toboth consume andproduce texts,images,videoandaudiowhileonthe move usingour
mobile phones,orat home onour computers,or onthe new hybridTV sets.Asindividualswe canbecome
personallyinvolvedwithanythingthatis‘outthere’.Itmaybe newseventsthatwe influencebysendingapicture
to a newspaperorblog,or our friend’slivesoracommenton Twitter.
Individualscanorganize themselvesintonon-traditional associationswhichcansetup petitions,discusspolitical
issues,influence companies,orshare opinions,ideas,advice orjokes.
Democratisation ofThe Media
We can define democratisation ofthe media by looking atthe democratic process in society.As a citizen in a democracywe have
a small butimportantinputinto which form of governmentis in power.There are manycountries where this inputis denied.Ideas,
information,political manifestos,pictures,opinions reach the electorate via the gatekeepers ofthe news media.Some people
argue this means thatcitizens are denied ‘untainted news’.
The democratisation inherentin new media means thatcontentand information,from news stories to videos to music,become
importantand relevant because ofthe collective vote of the internetcommunity.There are no gate keepers such as news edito rs
or magazine editors selecting the stories for us.
Democratisation ofthe media means all contenton the web has the same opportunityfor exposure or discovery by an audience
as every other piece of content. For example,an outspoken blog,or a school podcast,has the same chance ofreaching an
audience as an article in The Times newspaper or a governmentonline site.This is notjusta one way process.
Democratisation ofthe media means thatanyone and everyone can have a say - via a blog or forum - in what is thoughtto be
important,interesting or relevant or entertaining.There is almostno censorship,other than the laws of the country, and no filtering
from unknown voices or institutions.It is the raw data from the people to the people.
It is this freedom that is popular.But freedom is rarely free or withoutdangers,and responsibilities.So the internethas authored
content such as blogs where you can see one person’s opinion and acceptor rejectit, and unauthored information.You can
commenton this contentto correct any inaccuracies,or justsound offwith your own ideas – yes this is democracyof information
and opinion.The question is does itaffect any societal process,have any power or influence any governmentpolicies?