Media & Society, a brief history

This video, which I made in 2014, was to be the first in a short series intended for Citizen J, a program that was discontinued at the Queensland State Library. I made the film using only copyright-free images and sounds. 

A long time ago (before the advent of Facebook and Twitter), I studied media at postgrad level. Obviously much has changed since then but the fundamentals up until the digital period still hold. The main (and ok, quite obvious) point is that information is beholden to its media gatekeepers. (That and there is no obvious funding model for investigative journalism in the digital age.) So in 200 words or less, here is a recollection of media epochs:

Before handwriting, information gatekeepers were strong orators and elders. (See video above.) Due to handwriting, empires became logistically easier and the church, in particular, became the all-powerful keeper of sacred scripts. Only the ‘intiated’ could read them. Then came print and suddenly the Bible was accessible to the masses, who became literate. In line with this was the coalescence of various languages and dialects into the few commonly used today. Then came broadcast media (radio and TV). This led to social upheavals, like racial equality, as even the illiterate could be put centre-stage of other lifestyles. Media suddenly had unprecedented reach, if one could afford the huge sums required to broadcast, and this gave huge influence to specific corporations or despotic governments. Then arrived the internet, which suddenly allowed everyone to be their own publisher. It heralded a new era of democratic participation. Now we are seeing a concentration of powers there too. While there are many players (ISPs, hackers, satellites), it seems the main gatekeepers in the democratic West are those who can afford to lure the masses with free services (in exchange for their marketing data, of course). 

Personally, I believe only public money should liberate what should be a public good (access to information) but if not, we at least need strong media regulation to avoid monopolistic markets. For my view on current events in Australia’s media landscape, see Murdoch, Google & Facebook.

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