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February 26, 2016

Converging Media

Chapters 3,4, and 5.

Print Media - Chapter 3

Pavlik and McIntosh discuss the origins of print media and how it affected out symbolic environment, increased literacy, as well as the primary functions of print media.

With print media, for the first time, people could interpret for themselves information, read over it again, and analyze it for themselves. However, visual representation goes back further than that to the lasqau caves where people would leave drawings of clues to food, and even animations when lit with candles. The book documents means of print production from clay tablets in 3500BC, papyrus scrolls in 2500BC to the Chinese paper in 400AD, right up to the printing press in 1455AD, and modern media.

Books were not available to everyone, only for wealthy people with means to provide a tutor, and generally mirrored the dominant societies view on social customs. Relatively, you could make the argument that things haven’t changed if you have a conversation with a medical or law student.

It was the dime novel in 1960 that made books accessible to the poor, and were nationalistic in nature. With greater technology, like print on demand, books were printed faster and cheaper. They have since evolved to audio books where people could experience a book by listening to it whilst driving. We also have e-books, while they haven’t surpassed physical books yet, are growing rapidly. As with the previous post, a small band of publishers, and distributors have traditionally held dominance in the book market, but yet again, technology is allowing people to self-publish and get their work out., albeit without the marketing powers of big publishers. While brick and mortar bookstores are closing, it is interesting to note that the industry that brought their demise has opened up a brick and mortar bookstore. Amazon has the financial power, and more importantly the data to know exactly what to bring to a region. Newspapers have their origins as far back as Julius Caesar. It was in the late 1600’s that they became a regular occurrence in North America, namely Boston. The golden age of papers began in 1830 and lasted to 1930 when radio took over as the primary way to intake news, as people began living suburban, and listened while travelling. This is evident in Roosevelt winning the election due to radio broadcasts, despite his opposition from papers.

Despite the Newspaper Reservation Act of 1970, the Joint operating arrangement, allowed firms to own several ‘competing’ newspapers in a single market. Today one man pretty much owns it all, and papers are wire serviced, recycled news that is disconnected to the community it is sold in. It correlates ITS news to the community as opposed to being a voice for the people. More and more papers today are becoming digital only, and magazines are going the same way save for specialized magazines, especially ones targeted to older generations who haven’t totally made the shift to online. We also see online content being nothing more than information cards of concise information as long form journalism is dying out, as people are too busy to sit down and read long pieces.

Chapter 4 – Audio

This chapter details the recording industry, radio, and satellite broadcasting. As with print, the industry is owned by very few large corporations (four) whose sole purpose is profit, at the expense and exploitation of artists. It is noted that independent labels produce 66% of titles, yet output only 20% of sales, whereas the major labels output 80% of sales. While many theories explain this, monetary resources, payola, and marketing seem to ring true.

Despite that, the music recording industry is in decline as new technology ushers in a new era of distribution, and circulation. Major labels have tried to stem the flow of content being shared online to the dismay of consumers. It is our innate desire to share content, as we have always done without modern technology, dating back to the 13th century and the pecia system, which is eerily similar to peer to how peer networks work . It is also the consumer that makes music popular, and the more we spread it, the more successful it becomes. It is s dilemma being debated around the moral economy.

New technologies, distribution methods allow independent artists to create, mix, and distribute music without the backing of major labels. People are also broadcasting their own independent podcasts which they advertise on social media. Joe Rogan is a good example of podcasts that have become quite popular. Other established artists are giving their music away for free, and starting go fund me accounts to fund their albums. It is an emerging model of giving people what they want, when they want it. Again, it is a moral economy where people feel obligated to reciprocate the “gift” of free music given out by the artists. Watch this ted talk for more.

Chapter 5 Visual Media

The fifth chapter deals with visuals ranging from the origins of photography to TV, to modern motion picture cinema. From Camera Obscura, to daguerreotype to modern photography, we have seen the evolution of visual art. As with the other mediums, it is owned by a large concentrated group that has the power of a large audience and skills to manipulate, and shape public opinion, and capture its imagination through storytelling and propaganda. The evolution of the medium has also given this industry a hit, but also giving the ordinary person the technology to learn, and make decent film, and graphics. YouTube has some great independent short films that I recommend watching. Media convergence has allowed the produser to capture and make films that have artistic merit, and we have the platform to showcase it. A Sundance film festival showcase, Tangerine was shot on an IPhone 6. We are moving away from being a passive audience and we are marketing and producing to and for ourselves, as well as unwittingly marketing main stream movies. Frontline had a great documentary on this called Generation Like, which I recommend.

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