Hasn’t media always been social?

It’s very difficult for me to conceptualize media without associating it with some variance of a “social” aspect. I think that’s the very nature of media. Before we had opportunities to click “share” buttons on platforms like Facebook or Twitter, people were sharing physical, tangible forms of media via word-of-mouth and around the dinner table. As a small child, I can recall my parents and grandparents rallied around a large table, having a heated discussion about “X” or “Y.” To consume information, I have fond memories of my elders watching a nightly news program. I think the only difference between then and now is that we’ve eliminated the need for ugly furniture to gather around to share our opinions or know what’s going on in the world. I also think that legacy forms of “social” and “media” didn’t offer much diversity of opinion, as we were gathered around a group of people most likely to reflect values of our own.

I think that for communication, and especially international communication, social networking sites enable us to broader our horizons and incorporate ideas we wouldn’t otherwise consider. There is that other side to social media, though: The side that allows us to pick and choose from where and from whom we receive our information. There’s also another argument against social media. The one that purports that social media does nothing more than make the once-never-mentioned at the front and center of thought. I think this graphic best depicts my argument.

However, I wholly believe that the scales tip more in favor of opinion diversity, than of cherry-picking where we receive information or polluting news feeds with irrelevant, insipid thought. But I digress back to my point that media has always been attached to some form of “social” aspect.

-David Reinbold

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2 thoughts on “Hasn’t media always been social?

  1. David,

    I LOVE the graphic you included. It’s true, for many of us, the media is nothing if not a way for us to communicate our feelings, gather with other people who believe similar things to us, and join in a mini-discussion. Do you think we, as Americans, lose something though because most of our news is slanted? Abroad, they have BBCEurope, BBCAsia, etc. Do you think that makes their public more or less informed to have to make their own decisions?

    My parents, though they’ve been out of Pakistan for 25 years now, talk about it. My mother watches PTV CONSTANTLY, and talks about the politics with more vigor and passion than she reserves for the politics here. My father is the opposite–once he moved to London, he stopped talking about Pakistan, and once he moved here, he doesn’t talk about London. I often wonder what that makes us Americans look like…Even now, our news is fixated on the US. Today, CBS aired a story on new Heinz Ketchup products…And yet, the most important news is not shown. Your thoughts?

    – Tara

  2. I think that one of the biggest problems with American media, especially the media we consume domestically, is that we cater to advertisers too much, and the audience too little. Having worked in news before as an editor, I know that there is this tricky dance editors do; they try to strike a balance between what is important news, and what will increase readership/viewership. We call that “sexy news.” It’s not always the most important, but it guarantees that the business end of journalism stays happy. It all comes down to the bottom line, because news companies are no longer (in most cases) family owned. They’re owned by corporations. That’s not to say that corporations are necessarily bad, but the directives for what goes into news is different than it was say… 50 years ago? But also, consumer tastes have changed, too. And to that end, how would you suggest that editorial decisions about news judgment and value be weighed? What is important news to you?

    -David Reinbold

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