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Mass Media, the Internet, and the Modern Consumer

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Introduction

Mass Media, the Internet, and the Modern Consumer It is, indeed, an interesting time, this age of information. As we witness a complete change in the nature of mass communication, the ripples expand from millions of points. Some of these ripples fade, dispersing as minor vibrations. Others, however, coincident in direction, raise implications like a breaking Tsunami. Until very recently, the consumer of information relied mostly on mass media, as opposed to interactive means. It is not called mass media because it is directed towards the "simple masses" like one might think of the tabloid press. It's name, mass, refers to a format based on mass consumption. Information travels one way, packaged like any other, formatted uniformly regardless of the user. In this sense, a classic novel is no different than a periodical or daily paper. That's old news, so to speak, but now it's getting truly engaging. We are at a span in literary history where mass media is falling to the world-wide interactive flow of information. The tide is finally coming in on a regular basis, and some sand-castles are about to fall. Mass Media, by its nature, allows its producers to comment without questions and state as fact without support. The consumer may protest by refusing to buy that publication. The consumer may disagree, add to, or question further in the form of a letter to the editor. If the format encourages a controlled dialogue (has a letters to the editor section), and the editor chooses to publish that letter, the individual may see public satisfaction within a couple months. ...read more.

Middle

Because of this, reviewers have had, as of late, a much more difficult time making unsubstantiated claims without risking their credibility, as the readers now have public forums to discuss specific topics among those more knowledgeable. I believe it's about time. Hopefully some good will come of it. And where does it leave the audio/video "rag?" These "rags", referring to the less reputable and most guilty offenders, will have to adapt, or hope to appeal to the shrinking demographic groups with enough discretionary income to buy audio/video equipment and attract advertisers with no Internet access. If somebody makes a technical statement that flies in the face of well understood physical properties, they're going to have a heck of a time backing it up, especially since many technically competent people have computers, and with them the means to traverse our electronic universe. It is truly a brave new world. A bit scary, but perhaps all the more useful to those who might fall victim to self-serving and self-appointed authorities who comment on the most esoteric without understanding the most conventional. Reviewers, their editors, and consequently, publishers themselves must take responsibility for the work they publish, or suffer the aftermath of their actions. That's not to imply that every journalist must take pains to think like some equation-spitting robot. (Sadly, I know of at least one prominent school of journalism that encourages just such training, right down to vocabulary.) Although objective analysis always lends more substance to the pot, subjective evaluations will always play a part in any kind of interesting work. ...read more.

Conclusion

To make a statement of fact, one must prepare to substantiate it. To make a statement of opinion, if simply for the sake of completeness, one must explain the reasoning behind that opinion. To do otherwise, one must expect ridicule, deservedly. For a somewhat mainstream publication, it makes sense, I think, to carefully blend a variety of aspects. For example, make some simple and useful measurements in a first pass (a square wave can show a lot about bandwidth, phase, response, and amplitude linearity). Then, include subjective aspects as to provide enough insight as to help a reader perhaps decide if such a product might be worth pursuing, but not with such terms which apply only as abstractly to carry as much weight as pure imagination. Sometimes it appears a difficult line to walk. All writers must expect criticism of their ideas, especially as the Internet expands to give a louder voice to challenges that would otherwise die on an editor's desk. But, so long as the editor and the writers work together to keep their feet out of their mouths, there are that many more feet to stand on. It's becoming a rough little village for those who would take on the soapbox, and I think it will be all that much better for it. Content will determine success of publishing on the Internet, not big money, glossy paper, or a hodgepodge of colourful glitz. Hurrah for the little guys. Throw out the prose, and dodge the tomatoes in the meantime! It's gonna get messy. Sociology 14th March 1999 Subject Lecturer: Amanda Beggs ...read more.

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