MEDIA STUDIES 2.0 REPRESENTS A PARADIGM WHICH HAS LITTLE USEFUL TO SAY ABOUT MEDIA IN THE 21ST CENTURY. IT IS FRAUGHT WITH QUESTIONABLE ASSUMPTIONS:The fetishisation of 'expert' readings of media texts is replaced with a focus on the everyday meanings produced by the diverse array of audience members, accompanied by an interest in new qualitative research techniques; SO IT SEEMS 2.0 IS PRIMARILY INTERESTED IN AUDIENCE RECEPTION STUDIES, AND HAS NO INTEREST IN SELF-EVIDENTLY IRRELEVANT QUESTIONS OF THE RELATION BETWEEN TEXTUAL FORM/ CONTENT AND CONDITIONS OF PRODUCTION?The tendency to celebrate certain 'classic' conventional and/or 'avant garde' texts, and the focus on traditional media in general, is replaced with - or at least joined by - an interest in the massive 'long tail' of independent media projects such as those found on YouTube and many other websites, mobile devices, and other forms of DIY media; The view of the internet and new digital media as an 'optional extra' is correspondingly replaced with recognition that they have fundamentally changed the ways in which we engage with all media; THE 'FUNDAMENTAL' CHANGE MIGHT BE NEWS TO THE OTHER HALF OF THE WORLD WHICH HASN'T YET MADE A PHONE CALL... AND THERE ARE MANY CONTINUITIES AS WELL AS SHIFTS (LOOK AT THE CORPORATE BUY-OUTS OF POPULAR WEBSITES LIKE YOUTUBE). THE OLD POLITICAL ECONOMY QUESTIONS ABOUT OWNERSHIP, CONTROL, ACCESS, AND INTERESTS ARE BECOMING MORE, NOT LESS IMPORTANT IN THE DIGITAL ERA. BUT 2.0 MAKES NO REFERENCE TO THESE ISSUES.The patronising belief that students should be taught how to 'read' the media is replaced by the recognition that media audiences in general are already extremely capable interpreters of media content, with a critical eye and an understanding of contemporary media techniques, thanks in large part to the large amount of coverage of this in popular media itself; TEACHING CRITICAL MEDIA LITERACY IS NOT ABOUT IMPOSING PREDETERMINED POLITICALLY-CORRECT IDEOLOGIES ONTO STUDENTS BUT HELPING THEM ASK INTELLIGENT, PERTINENT QUESTIONS SO THAT CAN UNDERSTAND HOW MEDIA FORMS MIGHT SHAPE, ENABLE AND CONSTRAIN THEIR LIFE-CHANCES. SO IF TECHNO-SAVVY ADOLESCENTS NEED NO GUIDANCE FROM ACADEMIC FUDDY-DUDDIES THEN WHY EVEN BOTHER WITH 2.0? IN THE CONTEMPORARY MEDIA ENVIRONMENT, STUDENTS NEED MORE HELP IN UNDERSTANDING THE NATURE OF THEIR MEDIA ENVIRONMENTS, NOT LESS. WHAT'S REALLY PATRONISING HERE IS THE NOTION THAT ANYONE TEACHING MEDIA CRITICISM MUST BE AN IDEOLOGUE ENGAGED IN PREHISTORIC PEDAGOGY.Conventional research methods are replaced - or at least supplemented - by new methods which recognise and make use of people's own creativity, and brush aside the outmoded notions of 'receiver' audiences and elite 'producers'; THEY MAY RIGHTLY DISPLACE SOME OF THE MORE SIMPLISTIC MODELS OF MEDIA EFFECTS AND MOVE BEYOND STIMULUS-REPSONSE MODELS OR EXEGESIS BASED SOLELY ON CONTENT ANALYSIS- BUT THE FORMULATION ABOVE SOUNDS RATHER LIKE A CALL FOR EPISTEMOLOGICAL RELATIVSM. IS THERE REALLY A NEW MEDIA REALITY REQUIRING NOT ONLY EMPIRICAL UPDATING BUT NEW FORMS OF KNOWLEDGE AND METHODOLOGIES? MAKES YOU WONDER IF MEDIA STUDIES 2.0 IS COMPLICIT IN ITS OWN 'SOKAL HOAX'... Conventional concerns with power and politics are reworked in recognition of these points, so that the notion of super-powerful media industries invading the minds of a relatively passive population is compelled to recognise and address the context of more widespread creation and participation. I HADN'T NOTICED NEWS CORP OR SONY REPORTING A COLLAPSE OF PROFITABILITY RECENTLY-DESPITE THE FRAGMENTATION OF THE AUDIENCE AND THE PLETHORA OF NEW MEDIA DISTRIBUTION FORMS, THE PRINCIPAL MODES OF COMMERCIAL CONTENT PRODUCTION REMAINS, EVEN IF IT DRAWS ON A BROADER RANGE OF PRODUCERS. ON THAT POINT, 2.0 APPEARS TO BE A CELEBRATION OF THE OSTENSIBLE CREATIVITY OF THE ON-LINE COMMUNITY IN PARTICIPATING IN MEDIA CONTENT PRODUCTION. THIS OVERLOOKS QUESTIONS OF ACCESS AND ABILITY TO MAKE USE OF NEW MEDIA. MOREOVER, IT OVERLOOKS THE PROBLEM THAT CERTAIN TYPES OF MEDIA FORM PRESUPPOSE SOME FORM OF PROFESSIONAL TRAINING- IF ONE CONSIDERS NEWS MEDIA, HAS THE NEWS BECOME MORE ACCURATE AND RELIABLE BECAUSE OF AMATEUR BLOGS? ALTHOUGH THERE IS PLENTY WRONG WITH MAINSTREAM JOURNALISTIC PRACTICES, THIS IS UNLIKELY TO BE AMELIORATED BY COLLECTIVE AMATEURISM. THERE IS STILL A NEED FOR PROFESSIONAL MEDIA TRAINING- AND PROFESSIONAL ETHICS. OF COURSE THAT ASSUMES SOME RATHER OLD FASHIONED NOTIONS SUCH AS THE PUBLIC'S NEED FOR INFORMATION CORRESPONDING TO AN EXTERNAL REALITY. PERHAPS THERE IS NO PLACE FOR THIS IN THE POSTMODERN HYPER-REALITY WHICH MEDIA STUDIES 2.0 CLAIMS AS ITS SUBJECT DOMAIN?ULTIMATELY, 2.0 REPRESENTS A CHARTER FOR DEPOLITICISING MEDIA STUDIES. AT BEST IT REPRESENTS A NARROWING OF THE FIELD AND AN UNCRITICAL ACCEPTANCE OF THE 'POPULAR' CULTURAL PARADIGM. THIS WILL NO DOUBT BE POPULAR WITH CREATIVE INDUSTRIES PROPONENTS, THIRD-WAYERS AND OTHER APOLOGISTS FOR NEW RIGHT AGENDAS. AS A BASIS FOR THE PRACTICE OF CRITICAL RESEARCH, IT OFFERS NOTHING. IF MEDIA STUDIES HAD LOOKED LIKE THIS WHEN I CAME INTO THE FIELD, I'D HAVE DONE PHYSICS INSTEAD.
05 March 2007 19:58