In this weeks readings I found the discussion of the role of image and language very interesting, particularly the statement “…image is everything, and nothing…” (CTMS, 263-264) in the chapter on Law. It was interesting to me to read about virtual journalism and its potential. What image will be presented of journalism as it becomes more integrated in virtual reality?
“If the boundaries between observation, participation, audience and social structure fundamentally break down in virtual worlds, it is uncertain whether virtual reality journalism can be done by a human at all” (Taylor, 2016).
There are normative theories and values that are attributed, or have been attributed with the news media. The International Principles of Professional Ethics in Journalism (a code of conduct) highlights ten “responsibilities” of journalism professionals. Two of these responsibilities include: The Journalist’s Social Responsibility – information as a social good and not a commodity, and Respect for the Public Interest (McQuail, 1994, p. 125). These “responsibilities” are not limited to the individual journalist, but to media organizations as well.
The history of journalism and democracy are closely linked, and the origins of both parallel each other. Brian McNair (2008) discusses the linkage in, Journalism and Democracy. As democracy took hold historically, the role of journalism would expand from pure reporting of facts, to critical commentary that was free from the hold of the state and other authorities of the time. An engaged and enlightened citizenry was based on accurate, thoughtful information without or with clearly clarified allegiances. The dominant threat to the public interest and information as social good, now comes less from the state, but from capitalism and commerce.
Neoliberalism and the capitalist system both support and promote the principles of the free market including, open competition, profit and consumer content choice. Capitalism also has a t endency to drift towards monopoly and is inherently exploitive, with winners and losers.
Dallas Smythe, is a media theorist and former professor at Simon Fraser University. He argues that the media are in the business of selling commodities and that the commodity to be sold is not information, but the audience. We spoke this week of the importance of language. What is the difference between a citizen and a consumer? The defining difference has been described as individual vs collective consciousness. Croteau and Hoynes state, “Consumers pursue privatized personal goals by buying various products, services, or experiences. Because of their buying power, consumers are not equal. Citizens on the other hand, are connected to communities and participate in ongoing deliberations that constitute a shared civic life. A fundamental assumption of democratic societies – distinguishing them from markets – is that citizens are equal, regardless of their consumer capabilities.” (Croteau and Hoyes, 2006 p. 224).
Noam Chomsky and S. Herman (1988) discuss the structure of the system in their publication, Manufacturing Consent. It is essentially a criticism of the dominant capitalist system. It is also a criticism of the impacts commercialization has on media content and distribution. As Andrew Mullen states in Media Culture Society, “Power is reflected in and exercised through, media ownership, advertising, sourcing, flak and ideology….” (Mullen, 2010, p. 682). Their position, that the current system is in favour of the elite and not the public interest makes me wonder what the public interest will look like in the future, and the virtual reality spaces that Taylor discusses.
Taylor’s article in the Columbia Journalism Review quotes Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg as stating, “One day we believe this kind of immersive augmented reality will become a part of the daily lives of billions of people”, seeking to seamlessly weave together the physical and the virtual. This made me think of Hyper-Reality and Augmented City 3D by Keiichi Matsuda ( http://hyper-reality.co/ and http://km.cx/projects/augmented-city-3D/ ). They are concept films, where physical and virtual realities are intertwined and consider how a population in the future will relate to interaction, experience, possibility and control.
Croteau, D. and Hoynes, W. (2006). The Business of Media: Corporate Media and the Public Interest. Thousand Oaks, California: Pine Forge Press.
Herman, E. and Chomsky, N. (1988) Manufacturing Consent. New York: Pantheon Books.
McQuail, Denis. (1994). Normative theories of media performance. Mass Communication Theory: An Introduction, 3rd ed. Sage Publications, Incorporated. pp. 121-136.
McNair, Brian. (2008). Journalism and Democracy in The Handbook of Journalism Studies. US: Routledge. pp. 237-249.