As I was reading for today, some of the points made about alternative media in Catherine Saalfield’s “On the Make: Activist Video Collections” caught my attention in their relation to current forms of participatory media. First, a definition of alternative media as media that encourages participation is one I haven’t heard articulated in such simple terms before, and I began to consider what forms of alternative media I recognize in our society today, based on that definition. Something I think is very important that came up was how many forms of media and media platforms only seem to encourage participation – such as TV shows questioning viewers on what should happen next in the plot – yet there is no true exchange and complementary relationship between the audience and the producers. I think this simulation of exchange is supposed to satiate viewers, while real critique and feedback is not encouraged or regarded. Small exchanges such as these masquerade as liberatory media, yet true critical analysis and feedback from audience would most likely upset the hegemonic agenda of dominant culture. For example, viewers might be able to vote the outcome of a certain relationship on a TV show, but critique from women of color about the show’s untruthful representation or lack of women of color characters does not have a platform. I think this is the type of audience participation that would be truly revolutionary and that would do a lot to “interrupt the spectacle,” because definitely not everyone is mesmerized, yet it doesn’t happen. However, there are a few cool successful platforms/forms of participatory media that I could think of, like allowing the public to Tweet questions for the presidential debates. It is not perfect, because not all questions are addressed, but I think it is a start to some radical changes in the way media and governmental institutions interact with the public.

Examples of Tweeted questions for the Presidential debate:


3 responses »

  1. jonesa0913 says:

    Your point regarding the facade of participatory media is really fascinating.Whenever I think of participatory media, I immediately think of alternative media sources. However, there are examples where consumers have minimal power of the “outcome” of mainstream media. Still, I would agree that hegemonic forces are ever-present, and we have yet to exercise enough power to combat the stereotypes of people of color in media.

  2. sonyajendoubi says:

    You mention successful platforms, and refer to Twitter, are there any others you could share with us? Even ones you might not consider “successful.” I have to agree that though there may be platforms to express yourself (i.e Social Media, Blogs, comment sections on websites etc..) few are influential. There are many people who write on Blogger or WordPress about their thoughts and frustrations regarding TV, but many are obscure and are read by less than 100 people. Though the internet has enabled more voices to access the game, few of those voices can be heard. That being said, I’m not sure what change in our media structure would make a drastic impact.

  3. alexanderlandau says:

    Going off of Sonya’s point, some social media sites and other websites are structured in ways that prevent many peoples voices from being heard. Facebook, Youtube, Reddit and major news agencies’ websites, for example, are structured so that specific information is curated for users. The Newsfeed on Facebook only contains information on what your friends, and sometimes your friends’ friends, are up to. Typically, you and your friends on Facebook share similar interests, “likes” and friend circles. This means that you and your friends see similar information. Also, Facebook has a trending bar on the right side of the newsfeed of “popular” posts and news stories. The trending bar prevents users from seeing other important posts and news stories. Youtube specializes the home-screen to a user’s particular interests. While this is helpful for users, it prevents them from seeing many videos outside their interests. Reddit and major news agencies always have the “top stories” on their home-screens. This means that certain stories are being promoted, and thus it’s hard for viewers to find other interesting stories.

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