A Shift from Active Audiences To Media (Digital) Citizenship

Topics: Sociology, Audience theory, Audience Pages: 5 (1895 words) Published: December 17, 2013

Media consumption has seen many substantial changes in the last one-decade or so. With the proliferation of mobile devices and Internet to various parts of the world, more and more people are catching up with the digital media everyday. The digital media has changed the way media operates in more than one ways. First, the media has become much more fragmented and the audience’s average attention span has dropped to a much lesser amount. The number of alternates for sourcing information is so high that it is up to the consumer to keep the information he or she perceives as relevant and credible and debunk the rest. Secondly, increasing digital media channels give audience a platform to be broadcasters as well. Every blogger, every person on social media is a source of communication too and hence the media houses are not the only sources of information anymore. Thirdly, with the markets becoming more and more competitive, companies are consistently trying harder to communicate their messages to the audiences and digital is proving to provide a much larger ROI than any of the traditional channels of communication. For this reason, all forms of media are now being integrated into digital space slowly. We have seen this trend for newspapers as well as television and this trend is likely to become more prominent in future. In this digital space there is bound to be a tussle between the conventional media houses, the epicenters of information outflow and the media audience who have more power than ever before. This paper will throw light on the current trend of increasing active audiences in the digital domain and its effect on the power shift from the broadcaster to the audience.

Active Audience theory is a media theory that states that audiences don’t merely receive information but also process it and give meaning to the received content. This meaning is dependent on their values, belief and the cultural context they come from. Stuart Hall proposed a model that categorized decoding of media content in three ways: a.Dominant or hegemonic reading

b.Negotiated reading
c.Oppositional reading or counter-hegemonic reading
The interpretation for each of these three ways is very different and is a function of the choice and social context of the reader or the decoder. Media consumers are now more critical of what is offered to them for consumption due to the readily available choice. Hence, audiences recently have started asking more questions, looking for more than one perspective and an overall picture rather than a painted one. Traditionally, active audiences only received information and social scientists concentrated on study of the ways in which interpretation of the information was carried out. However, with the sudden burst in numbers of digital devices and platforms and decrease in the cost of using this media, the over all number of users has increased. Also the participation of the audiences is not just restricted to actively listening, decoding and interpreting information but also to create information and broadcasting it back to the community. Media consumers in the age of YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other digital platforms are much more vocal and upfront about their opinions and there is a sudden upsurge in the over all activity on social media on this front. Hence, we can say Active audiences have now changed into active broadcasters as well. Infact all this is imbibed in one in a way that many of the users of social media literally “live” a parallel life through this media as its citizens.

A lot of literature has been published on the topic of media and citizenship together. Journalism over a course of time has supported the discourse on citizenship and nationality. It is more evident now than ever before due to digital platforms. The overall readership of newspapers is gradually decreasing. Is it because youth is now finding news more and more boring? Or is it that they are moving from print media to...

Bibliography: Hall, S. (1980), 'Encoding/Decoding ', In Hall, S. Hobson, D. Lowe, A. Willis, P. Culture, Media,
Language: Working Papers In Cultural Studies.
Joke Hermes (2006) Citizenship In The Age Of The Internet, European Journal Of Communication.
Andy Macdonald (2013) Syria’s Digital War Explodes Of Social Media Frontlines, CBC
John Timpane (Sep 2013) Social Media Creating A Diverse Opposition To The Syria War
Dr. Maria Bakardjieva, Dr. Jakob Svensson, Dr. Marko M. Skoric, Digital Citizenship And Activism: Questions Of Power And Participation Online (2012) JeDEM.
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