Assess cultural pessimist views of the new media

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Cultural pessimists have a negative view of new media, arguing the rise in new media has been exaggerated by neophiliacs. Cultural pessimists argue new media is not so ‘new’, instead it is an extension of old media. The only novelty of new media is its speed, allowing information to be accessed in the real time. Cultural pessimists believe new media retains negative features of old media, particularly ownership patterns (i.e. concentration in hands of elite groups), which is supported by Marxists. Cultural pessimists argue new media promotes low/candy floss culture of poor quality. Cultural pessimists believe the effects of new media on society are negative, meaning the government should regulate its content. By contrast, neophiliacs disagree, arguing new media brings many benefits to the society, including enhancement of social life and democratisation of the society.

Cultural pessimists believe new media is merely an extension of old media. Cultural pessimists argue new media is still run by and for the benefit of major corporations. JENKINS argues cross-media ownership benefits big media companies. The Internet is dominated by a small number of media companies like AOL (owned by Time Warner), which is US main Internet service provider. Most of the Internet is controlled by the big entertainment, press, telecommunications companies, making it easy for them to cross-promote products. CURRAN found that ¾ of most visited news websites are affiliated with the largest media corporations. Cultural pessimists thus criticise new media for still being based around consumption and profit-making. CORNFORD AND ROBINS argue that in order to maximise profits, consumer surveillance is put in place (through cookies), which enables future profits through tracked advertising. Similarly to cultural pessimists, Marxists have criticised such practices because commercialisation of the Internet encourages materialism, consumerism and false needs (Marcuse), which benefits capitalism. However, neophiliacs argue that new media offers diverse choice of better products, which is why people buy them, not because of being forced to buy them.

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Cultural pessimists argue new media reinforces elite power. CORNFORD AND ROBINS note that media corporations seek to monopolise strategic links within new media, allowing them to exert greater power than any consumer. Furthermore, political elite have constructed sophisticated websites to ensure their views dominate the Internet. Marxists argue this way the elites are able to transmit dominant ideology through new media. Media technologies are strengthening the already powerful rather than promoting alternative views. The elites benefit from the inequality of access to new media: they do not have to respond to concerns of digital underclass, whose grievances are perhaps ...

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