Archive for the ‘Comparison of Old Media and the Internet’ Category

        The internet is different from old media, it is more interactive and easier to access. In the structural transformation of the public sphere, Jürgen Habermas developed the influential concept of the public sphere, which emerged in the 18th century in Europe as a space where individuals exchanged views and participated in critical discussion.

Jürgen Habermas

The Internet, in some aspects, can be seen as a public sphere, it allows everyone to take part in discussion and express their ideas. There are lots of interactions during this information changing process. Medium such as radio and television, however, can’t be a public sphere. They are known as ‘few-to-many’ medium, which has only one or few transmitters but many receivers. This prevents fast interactions between the reporter and their audience through this kind of one-way medium.

The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere

      In the past, there was a dominant theory called the “Stimulus-Response theory”, explaining the relationship between the media and the public. It believes that the media had a very powerful and direct impact on the people when they are watching TV or reading a newspaper. Audiences are passive who simply absorb all messages from medium and are thus easily manipulated.

        However, as the internet grows in popularity, the stimulus response theory seems no longer applicable. Television and newspapers no longer hold the sole channel of communication, through the internet, the population can access various distinct new ideas; forcing the audience to consider and evaluate ideas presented to them, making the absorption of information a more active experience.

       People are now watching blogs and videos, interpreting them, and then posting their views online. They can discuss with others and participate in the procedure of making news and spreading knowledge.

       People are now not only viewers of media, but also producers of media.


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In the last posting, I introduced an Italian philosopher and political theorist Gramsci’s idea, ‘Hegemony’ to explain the phenomena that people are controlled by the media such as TV and newspaper even in this modern society. According to his argument, the reason why the revolution against the Capitalism that many Marxism theorists predicted as it happened didn’t occur is that a bourgeois exercises not only the visible violence or political and economical pressure over the other group of society but also the cultural and ideological propaganda to draw people’s spontaneous consent. Here is the additional explanation about Hegemony from Wikipedia.

Cultural hegemony is the philosophic and sociological concept, originated by the Marxist philosopher Antonio Gramsci, that a culturally-diverse society can be ruled or dominated by one of its social classes. It is the dominance of one social group over another, i.e. the ruling class over all other classes. The ideas of the ruling class come to be seen as the norm; they are seen as universal ideologies, perceived to benefit everyone whilst only really benefiting the ruling class.

Cultural hegemony is the philosophic and sociological concept, originated by the Marxist philosopher Antonio Gramsci, that a culturally-diverse society can be ruled or dominated by one of its social classes. It is the dominance of one social group over another, i.e. the ruling class over all other classes. The ideas of the ruling class come to be seen as the norm; they are seen as universal ideologies, perceived to benefit everyone whilst only really benefiting the ruling class.


In my home, South Korea, there was a big issue about the corruption in Samsung Company (For your information, Samsung is a Korean company, not Japanese or USA). A lawyer who worked in the company and retired informed a lot of corruption which has happened in the company secretly for its interest to the press. It became a hot potato in the country very quickly because for the most of Korean people, Samsung has been very significant (Samsung is the only company in Korea which put their advertising at the Time Square in New York City).

So, the public opinion was separated into two branches. Some people argued that the government must take a very strong action to fix the corruption happened in the company. But other people started to blame the lawyer who reported all these facts to the media. They insisted that if something bad happened in the Samsung, it would be harmful to whole the country, Korea. How did they think like that way? Is that because they all worked in the company? Of course not. There were various kinds of people who worked in different field of the society.

As you can guess, there was the media in front of the company. Of course, there were many spectrums dealing with that issue, but the thing is that the ‘major’ press made news supporting the Samsung. They said if Samsung got a bad image because of that uncertain rumor of corruption – but, actually it was quiet obvious though, the economy of Korea would have critical damage. I think it might be a good example explaining how Hegemony works in our real lives. Through this example, you can see how the media and a big company cooperate with each other skillfully.

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  On September 11, 2001, we can see the heading news about terrorist attack in every medium; we can see the videos of airplane crashing into the World Trade Center be repeated and repeated again on TV. All these news and images were spread to the world quickly and caused panic among many people.

   In the immediate aftermath of the attacks, the Bush administration announced a war on terrorism, with the stated goals of bringing Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda to justice and preventing the emergence of other terrorist networks. As before, the speech was broadcast again and again in many media, and was spread around the world.

   Because the media system keep reporting Bush administration’s announcement, as long as the repeated attacking image, many people started to believe that the invasion of Iraq is the just war. And as Bush said, it is for the world peace.

   The television companies and news agencies seem like helping the government to do the propaganda indirectly, they try to convince the citizens that we should support the war. Audiences who rely entirely on the television and newspaper as only information resources  can easily believe it, they might think Iraq as a horrible country without even know anything about their culture or background.

    Due to the ownership in old media system, the government has more chance to control the news that is going to be aired. Undoubtedly, this is also the most effective way to persuade the citizens and ask agreements for some big issues such as launching a war. 

    However, because of the new public sphere like Internet, people can express the different opinions from television or newspaper. For example, during the Iraq war, lots of people had formed different groups to against the war on the website; some of  them such as photographers and journalists went to Iraq and showed us the real life there by putting articles and photos on their blog; and some people even used these photos to make moving videos and spread them widely on Internet.

      There is a bunch of voices to against the war that can not be seen in the old medium. Without the ownership, everyone has equal rights to express their views and spread them to one another.

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In the past, there was a dominant communication theory that explains the relationship between media and the public. It is called ‘Stimulus – Response theory’ or S-R theory, and it said that the media had a very powerful and direct impact on the people watching TV or reading a newspaper. In other words, when people watch the television, their ideas are very easily manipulated by the media. According to this theory, an audience is passive, dependent and vulnerable, which means that the way they view the world is very depending on the perspective of the media.

However, in these days it appears that this theory is no longer outstanding. Above all, S-R theory underestimated the public’s potential capabilities of criticizing the media. As people are well-educated, they begin watching the media very carefully. They notice that some media are biased and it could be very dangerous.

The internet also plays a very important role in making people aware of the possible danger of the biased media. Through this new public sphere, people realize that the facts they believed as a firmed truth could be changed when they are seen from the other perspective of view. As I told you before, TV and newspaper was the only public source of the information. But, now people can get more various and diverse information that they need on the Internet whenever they want.

Because of such reasons, it seems that it’s hard for the media to manipulate the idea of audience in the way they have used so far. However, it’s also true that the main media sources such as TV and newspaper are still powerful and have a great impact on people’s behavior in every single day.  Why? Why is it still influential? There might be a lot of reasons for it, but today I want to introduce you one interesting theory to explain this phenomena; Hegemony by Antonio Gramsci.

Here is the definition of ‘Hegemony’ by the Wikipedia:

Hegemony (Greek: ἡγεμονία hēgemonía, English: [UK] /hɨˈɡɛməni/, [US]: pronounced /hɨˈdʒɛməni/; “leadership” or “hegemon” for “leader”) [1] is the political, economic, ideological or cultural power exerted by a dominant group over other groups, regardless of the explicit consent of the latter. While initially referring to the political dominance of certain ancient Greek city-states over their neighbors, the term has come to be used in a variety of other contexts, in particular Marxist philosopher Antonio Gramsci‘s theory of cultural hegemony.

The most important part of this idea, I think, is that there is the ‘explicit consent’ of the ruled class. When a dominant group spread some ideologies that benefit them, they always insist that it benefits everyone. But, it’s not true at all. Because the other group believes that it’s really helpful to all of them, they don’t resist against it. I might say that’s why and how the biased media works to the public.

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For the century, it seems that there is unbreakable myth of the media, which is that they always tell people only the truth or the fact. Of course, people nowadays are more likely to be aware of the possible danger of the media that could deliver the ‘partial’ fact happening in the real society as whole thing. However, it’s true that there are still many people who strongly believe that the media is the reality itself.

Historically, the traditional media such as newspaper and TV has been very useful – and actually the only – reliable public source of the information. Most of them have started their days with the front page of newspaper and they have slept just after turning off TV. Therefore, it’s fair to say that after the invention of the newspaper, people’s daily lives have been always with the media. Considering the impact that such media have on the people, it’s not surprising that people have firmed faith in the media.

The reason why the media cannot show the reality as it is to the public is quite simple. Whether it is TV or newspaper, they have to convey the news with very limited space. Do you think a picture tube or a paper can contain all the events happening all around the world? Of course not.

First, the journalists have to choose which events or news are the most important. Then, they have to describe them in limited space. Even though he or she is the best journalist ever, the words are not enough to explain the reality itself because the fact could be change differently according to the viewer. In that sense, there is no ‘neutral’ fact. All the fact contains specific perspectives (Of course, there are some differences of degree).

However, it could be very critical for the public especially because of the fact that they could be controlled by the media. More precisely, the media might manipulate people’s ‘idea’ or even belief. Concerning the normal company, people keep very critical eyes to watch their corruption and other illegal behaviors. But, they are very easy going on the broadcasting center or press company because they don’t think the press is the company which chases the profit as its best goal.

The more dangerous thing in this point is that there could be some group of people who try to archive their own private purpose using this nature of the public that believe the media always tell the true. Then here is the question; who are they, why they’re doing those kinds of thing? In the next posting, I will talk about this using Gramsci’s Hegemony theory. Thanks 

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CCTV is the largest television station in China; however in last year, there was a big issue that brought it the bad reputation and low trust from public.

In June 22,2009, CCTV reported that Google’s search engine was responsible for the spread of large amounts of vulgar, lewd and pornographic content, resulting in serious violations of China’s laws and regulations. And in the news, the CCTV journalist found three interviewees to express their views toward Google. One of the interviewee, Kao Yie, said like this,” my friend used to search some porn from the Internet and be seriously addicted to it. He told me that Google is the best search engine for this kind of erotic stuff, because it has great amount of pornography in the searching system and it’s easy to use! I really think that Google should not spread those obscene images anymore!”

After this news was reported, the government halted key features of the world’s most popular search engine after claiming Google China’s services, such as Google Suggest and Google Translate, helped Web users get easier access to pornography.

However, this action caused the big reaction among audiences. Many audiences said that CCTV is using this way to against Google deliberately. Moreover, it was later revealed through vigorous public searching that the interviewee Kao Yie is one of the workers in CCTV. Few days later, Kao Yie also admitted that he were simply told what to say by the journalist.

But what is the reason for CCTV to make this fake news and attack Google on purpose?

People believe that the recent fuss over search engine Google as a concerted effort between the Chinese government and CCTV to pomote new laws requiring “Green Dam-Youth Escort”, a content filtering program to be installed on all personal computers from July 1 out of security and privacy concerns.

“It seems like the government attempted to justify  Green Dam by emphasizing the existence of distasteful content on the Internet that they “have to” control,” said Rebecca McKinnon, an assistant professor of journalism and media studies at the University of Hong Kong.

“It’s odd that they’re singling out Google so specifically,” she told Bloomberg News.

Green Dam:"This information is harmful, will be screened out!"

In order to help government implement the new policy, CCTV used it’s power to manipulate the news. They try to convince audience to look Google as the way they want, and spread this bias to  the public.

This case confirmed what Harold Innis said about “monopoly of knowledge”.  Those who control knowledge through the dominant media of a given society also control reality; they are in a position to define what knowledge is true and what information is wrong.

The combination of media and an entity with political or otherwise ulterior motives can easily become the source of bias and distorted truth in the news. An example of this would be the cooperative relationship between CCTV and the Chinese government.

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   We can find another example of the propaganda by the media in North Korea. All the media in North Korea is being controlled by the government and the main party, Workers’ Party of Korea. It means that it’s impossible for them to make the news against the government. The media usually focus on the admiration of their president, Kim Jung-il, the excellence of their political system and the hostility against the States.

admiration of Kim Jung-il

     Because of this closed media system, even though North Korea have a hard time with economy and the relationship with other country, they can still maintain their political system with few resistance.

    Actually, many North Korean people believe the media is reality itself since they don’t have an opportunity to get other media having different perspectives. Therefore, one might say if the media system was not governed and more open than now, the status of North Korea would be totally changed.

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