Posted by: Blue Heavens | 24 November, 2007

Objectivity of Old Media = Perceived Objectivity?

I refer to this news article from Straitstimes Online. In case that you are unable to read the article, Dr Lee Boon Yang, Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts, talked about the advantages of Old Media (eg. Television, Radio, Newspapers) against that of the New Media such as blogs, chatrooms and user-generated video. He pointed out that 2 main points differentiates the different tiers of Media, Professionalism and Objectivity.

Here, I state that I believe that mainstream Old Media will not be doomed just because of the New Media. So the worry is not about the survival of Old Media, but the points of difference as mentioned by Dr Lee.

Professionalism

  • There’s no major argument against this aspect as in terms of Professionalism, New Media still lags behind. If you compare citizen journalism to mainstream journalists, there’s no doubt that mainstream journalism is still considered professional as it is still a sought-after and noble(as someone puts it) profession in the industry (pun not intended).
  • However, what I feel here is that the term “Professionalism” is a subjective term, subjective because it is determined by society. It is the social beliefs and norms that determine the difference between a professional and an amateur, which here divides Old Media and New Media. Therefore, it will not be surprising that New Media, in the not too distant future, might catch up in this particular segment. You might end up with tonnes of freelance journalists and reporters pledging their alliance to online media moguls.

Objectivity

This is where I will put my money up against. I might not be totally correct in my argument, so try not to take my words too seriously.

  • I believe that the “Objectivity” that Dr Lee mentioned in the news article, is actually more of the Perceived Objectivity that the masses have put their faith in, and will do so for years to come. Quite a few of us out there have doubts on the “Objectivity” of Old Media, because I think that it is a result of: consumerism and social objectivity.
  • Consumerism:
    • Most Mainstream(Old) Media out there are creating things that are meant to attract, capture attention, and ultimately, increase viewership. Of course this can be done in different ways and in this case, putting what people believe in or what people would want to see. In this case, money is the winner. If they can create something that people would want to believe in and would want to watch, I would say for most parts, sex and violence sells.
  • Social Objectivity:
    • The fact that the bigger local media companies have, one way or another, links to the State doesn’t really help. Up till the popularization of cyberspace, alternate communication, we believe in whatever these companies want us to believe in. Also, the fear of getting convicted for questioning the government sorts of tamed us to think in a certain direction. I would term this as a forced perceived objectivity. Something that we might have been forced to believe in has become society’s views.

Let me put across a concept which can be made possible by the New Media:

Subjectivity Statement

What do I mean? Everyone knows that blog posts, online comments and chatrooms tend to be biased. However, the Online Media could be able to bring the majority of the arguments together to induce a more Objective view to a topic of discussion. Bearing in mind that Perfect or Absolute Objectivity does not and will not exist in this world, this would reflect society’s perception of Objectivity. This could be tweaked towards finding the social perception of a particular state, nation or region in this world.

You might think that isn’t a particular society’s perceptions and views shaped by the country’s forced perception? This could be true if we were talking about 2 or 3 decades ago, but in each society, there are people who agree and there are those who don’t. The gap has now been brought closer through cyberspace communications where we have inter-social and inter-cultural interactions where views and beliefs are being shared throughout the world. You can find more and more people online who are questioning the authorities, no matter if they’re hiding behind the veil or not. Governments would have to step over to the New Media side to continue their influence over the people.

Does this statement hold? Think about it…

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