#MED104 – ‘The People Formerly Known as the Audience’ by Jay Rosen (2006, June 27).

This is a fun reading… but let’s put our critical reading glasses on again. Do we agree with Rosen that the ‘shift in platforms’ has led to a ‘shift in power’? Or is the relationship between text/audience/producer and power a bit more complicated? Think of an example when answering this question.

As Rosen clearly states towards the end of this reading, he never asserted that “’the people’ have the power now, and the media lost theirs” (2006, para. 23). Therefore, I concur that there has indeed been a shift in power between the consumer and the media. However, we must remember that just because more people have a voice with which to proclaim their opinions widely, this does not automatically translate into the possession of power. Hence, the relationship between text/audience/producer and power has become more complex.

Generally speaking, Western society is a capitalist one. Money rules. The more money one has, the more power accompanies it. So, I believe that consumers have acquired a false sense of power, as the media slaves to satisfy the consumer by getting them to buy in to what they have to offer. We readily and seamlessly absorb the information presented to us on a daily basis by the media. Some of us do not even question it. We do not wish to sacrifice the ease of access to this information stream for the sake of our opinions. Those of us who do, do not necessarily gain more power – maybe, just a wider audience to broadcast to.

The cynic in me does not hold too much hope in the power of the people. Ultimately, many of us have a sell-out point – where we passively accept what is pushed to us – where our laziness, apathy or lack of inclination to disrupt and protest comes to the fore. The media appeals to our increasing insularity and self-absorbed natures. By the time we figure out we should question what is going on, it may be too late to do anything about it.

A good example of this occuring, is Google. This company tirelessly works on making everything easier for us in the online space – so much so, that we will, or already are, taking what they offer into our physical spaces. Google started off by proclaiming to the world that their role was “not to be evil”, however, increasingly they manipulate us into thinking the ways we should be, rather than encouraging us to use this new “power”.

Google search results are refined and catered to our profiles. We are offered advertising that is most appealing, dependent on our preferences, which Google is aware of as they track us throughout the web. Google allows us to share our physical location when we post to our social media channels. Their Analytics are provided as a service to businesses who wish to pay for all the data that is collected from us. Some of us traipse through the internet unaware of just how much of a price we are paying for Google’s free services.

This is a timely discussion, as we just had the 25th anniversary of the internet this week. Tim Berners-Lee (the inventor of the Internet) has publically appealed for a “digital bill of rights”. Schmidt and Cohen (2014), Google CEOs, just published an article in ‘The New York Times’, pressing the importance for a fight against censorship. However, I consider this quite paradoxical, as “no single state, firm, or institution in the world has as much power over web-based activity as Google does” (Vaidhyanathan, 2011, p. 14).

Google makes our lives easier – there is no doubt about that. It enables us to have control and power over our information and data, providing us with the onus of what we put online. But, on closer inspection, we are learning that this power is an illusion, providing us with a false sense of security.


abchungrybeast. (2010, March 3). The Beast File: Google (‘HUNGRY BEAST’, ABC TV) [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R7yfV6RzE30

Rosen, J. (2006, June 27). The People Formerly Known as the Audience. [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://archive.pressthink.org/2006/06/27/ppl_frmr.html

Schmidt, E., & Cohen, J. (2014). The Future of Internet Freedom. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/12/opinion/the-future-of-internet-freedom.html?_r=2

Vaidhyanathan, S. (2011). The Googlization of everything (and why we should worry). Berkeley, Los Angeles: University of California Press.


About Maha @ Uni

Studying online, and want to keep a record of my progress and experiences...
This entry was posted in ABC Hungry Beast, Beginnings, Big Data, Citizen Journalism, Google, Media, New media, Personal Data, Privacy, Social Media, Tracking and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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