Ever since our society has had access to individual forms of media, from our own copy of the Bible to the smart phone in our pocket, we have treated it as the guiding light to which we look for answers. And from the very beginning, the establishments who mandated public access to the media foresaw a change in the balance of power that would inevitably put them at a disadvantage. So began the long standing conflict between the static establishments of power and the evolving body of the media.
Though individually we can identify our own measure of dependence on current media, often times the media itself, and the agendas behind it, will try to convince its audience that it is simultaneously passive and easily persuaded, and that it has a duty to monitor ‘at risk’ minorities, often children and adolescents, as they consume whatever flavour of dangerous content is targeted that month. In recognising that providing information alone is not enough to create a dependence or need for engagement with a media outlet, the people with agendas who control or seek to control the flow of information will provide its audience with a motive behind the information, often times creating an enemy where none exists. A recent example of this is the controversy between the Wall St Journal and Youtuber Felix Kjellburg.
This conflict between the old and new faces of the media has highlighted a prevalent issue embedded in our society; the manipulation of the media by the empowered to sway what they perceive as the weak mined crowd. The construction of monopolies, democratically elected politicians slandering honest journalism and the endless onslaught of advertising and guilt tripping has created a divide between the established systems of information delivery and its wide and varied audience. Never has this issue been so prevalent as it has today, and seems to be a regular feature of televised news and Twitter feeds alike.
Aside from what journalists already report on in these stories about how we are influenced by ‘fake news’ and pop culture, there is very little information looping back to media outlets about what their audience is responding and subscribing to. Audience studies can only convey information about who is watching or reading what and when. There is no empirical indication of political or religious belief, only the assumptions that can be drawn from that information. This in turn prompts responses from the media outlets to create content they feel will draw attention to them and subsequently their contracted advertisers.
Ultimately the choice to consume and what we consume is down to us, not the media.