Don’t hate the media

‘Don’t hate the media, become the media’ Jello Biafra. Is the relationship between producers and consumers changing? Jello Biafra, in his 2000 speech to the US Green party (of which he is a member) urged people “Don’t hate the media, become the media” . And since then we’ve seen a revolution in independent media…we’re almost listening to what Biafra has told us. A big catalyst in this was the formation of the Independent Media Centre in Seattle in 1999, a year prior to Biafra’s speech.

Finally we saw an organisation that tried to shatter the oligopoly of world-wide media that the global companies had a stranglehold on, whilst delivering impartial social and political messages to a worldwide audience. What’s more, they were highly democratic and therefore appealed to the majority of left-wing consumers, a hefty proportion of the population in largely-liberal countries like Italy, Israel, and the United States. The authors of the book “Cyberactivism” describes them:

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‘They see themselves as activists and journalists who produce their own first-hand accounts of struggles from other sites all over the world’ (1) (McCaughey and Ayers, 2003, page 60) Essentially, that is what they are, independent journalists with a view of reporting things in a democratically political style. Indeed, Italy’s IMC has the motto “Don’t hate the media, become the media”. Perhaps the most globally-renowned independent news organisation, Al-Jazeera, prides itself on its independence, and it being one of only a handful of independent Middle-Eastern news organisations. It gained notoriety when it broadcast a video statement from Osama Bin-Laden following the 2001 September 11th terrorist atrocities. It has since branched out by broadcasting in several different languages globally, and has other subsidiary faculties supplement to its news centre.

So the Indymedia organisations are making an impact as a collective both nationally and globally, and have been doing for almost a decade now, but what about the everyday individual, how is he or she encompassing Biafra’s ideology of “Don’t hate the media, become the media?” They are doing it on a global scale, for sure, through a variety of different mediums, but they are doing it a lot more subconsciously then the Indymedia organisations- they are doing it primarily for pleasure; not to send out a global message.

But the basic concept of instantaneous interaction is still there. They are still producing, reporting, editing via their various mediums. Social networking sites, for example Bebo and Facebook, are used very much for social interaction and personal pleasure, and users like the fact that they can create a profile for themselves, and therefore an identity. A report about this says: ‘Because of this ability to create an identity, social networking has become an essential part of the lives of adolescents and young adults – the most frequent users of these sites.'(2) (Nyland, Marvez, Beck, “2007).

As it would appear that social networking sites have become such integral parts of people’s lives indicates that they are very much embracing the media to the point of “becoming it”. Never have we seen such a global media phenomenon as Facebook…and the majority of the content is provided exclusively by the users themselves. These so called “Web 2.0” applications have only just recently taken flight…but yet they have became a mainstay of the Internet…the fact that the everyday person can edit the information and use it to interact with other people is much more than a novelty, to some it is a daily necessity. Moreover, they are free and easy to use, something which other types of media can’t say about their product or application.

Some would even argue that these networking sites are the evolutionary components of the Internet we know today, such as Jack Maness, librarian at University of Colorado. He says: ‘ This characterization of the current state of the Web is at times contended, and though the clear delineation between the first and second Webs is admittedly rather arbitrary, it still must be recognized that the Web is indeed evolving into a more interactive, multi-media driven technological space’ (3) (Maness, 2006).

I would argue that the delineation of between Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 is getting more distinct everyday, as more people join social networking sites and more social networking sites are developed, but agree that the web is indeed becoming more geared towards multi-media and interactivity, something which is only going to get bigger as the industry expands. The public gaining this control on social-networking sites demonstrates that the consumers have the power, whereas the producers, i.e. the websites’ owners and designers, have little power, except the ownership rights.

Wikipedia.org is a common tool for people wanting to find stuff out about something, and as it is edited by the general Internet public, it is a good example of people using the media the benefit of the people. Although the information on Wikipedia isn’t 100% accurate, it is an easier way of finding out information on a specific thing, as opposed to a search engine which gives scores of websites. What you want to find is there in a formulaic, encyclopaedic layout. We are, essentially, using the mass of information that the Internet has to offer and creating even more knowledge. The media has become educational and interactive, and it is partly down to the everyday Internet user.

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