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July 14, 2007

community media r us

Posted by dogpossum on July 14, 2007 2:52 PM in the category academia

I'm teaching this subject on the media this semester, right?
So it starts with a fairly ordinary introduction to basic media analysis skills and tools - helloooooo semiotics. Hello advertising. Hello COWBOYS!
Then we move to 'the public sphere', celebrity, media ownership and regulation. And then we end with 4 lectures on new media. This section is partly to do with things like media convergence and Big Brother, but also (and far more interestingly), community media and culture jamming. This is where my interest lies.

Now, firstly, I just want to note my reservations about this structure. It suggests that the internet has suddenly freed 'the media' from the grip of mega media corps, and that because we're all using laptops we're suddenly all free.
Which, as anyone who's paid attention to who's actually using the internet and computers knows, is patent bullshit. The same old collusions of class and social power are at work here - the internet demands literacy. The internet demands cash for computer gear (or internet cafe time). The internet demands time. And just because we're getting online, don't mean we're not seeing the same old racism/sexism/isms getting about.
This whole internet = democracy also ignores the fact that people have been getting radical with media since... forever. Hello political pamphlets. Hello SOAPBOX. And perhaps more importantly, there are media which are far more amenable to serious social change than the internet - go radio, go! Unlike the internet, radio doesn't demand literacy, the technology is cheap as chips, and a whole group of people can happily use just one radio. There is a substantial body of literature discussing media in developing countries (media development studies type action), and while it really fascinates me, I really don't know a lot about it.

But there's no denying the fascination of the internet for kids who're interested in the media and its role in democracy.
One of our lectures this semester is specifically concerned with old and new media in times of war. I'm imagining there'll be plenty of talk about propaganda, Bush and Howard and telly and newd. And because I'm the lecturer, I know there'll be some nice stuff about YouTube and the middle east.

But I have to go do some serious work now, so I can't carry on and make this the interesting discussion about teaching resistance and community media and YouTube that I had planned.

So go and read this article about footage of detention centres on YouTube, then go to YouTube and search for detention centres in Australia and let me know what you find, ok?

Posted by dogpossum on July 14, 2007 2:52 PM in the category academia