Sunday, 29 May 2011

WeMedia and Democracy Exam questions

As we saw last Sunday, these are the previous questions set for this topic:

How far can the media in 2010 be considered to be democratic?
Assess the claim that the media is becoming more democratic.
Discuss the meanings of the term ‘we media.’
Explore the claim that the ‘new’ media are more democratic than the ‘old’ media.
What is ‘we media’ and what difference does it make to citizens?
‘We get the media we deserve.’ Discuss, in relation to the role of media in a democracy.

So as you can see, several previous questions focus on old media v new media, some on what might be defined as wemedia and some very specifically on notions of democracy.

If we look at the bullet points in the Specification, which defines what should be studied, we should be able to relate them to the questions set so far:

• What are ‘We Media’?
• Where / how has ‘We Media’ emerged?
• In what way are the contemporary media more democratic than before?
• In what ways are the contemporary media less democratic than before?

The kinds of thing you might use as case studies include:
‘homegrown’, local, organic and potentially counter- cultural media
(eg blogging and digital film uploading and sharing)
You could compare potentially alternative / progressive ‘we media’ examples with other examples of more orthodox production and ownership models
you should know a bit about the history of such media before the web (fanzines, pamphlets, radical documentaries, etc)

This part of the exam asks you to do three more specific things, whatever topic you answer on:

1. You MUST refer to at least TWO different media
2. You MUST refer to past, present and future (with the emphasis on the present- contemporary examples from the past five years)
3. refer to critical/theoretical positions

For this topic, since a lot of what you look at is likely to be online, a comparison between online media and any form of traditional media (newspapers, broadcast news, film) would ensure you quickly meet the criteria for no.1

For no.2, the main thing is to ensure you have a majority of material from the past five years. This really should not be a problem when using online media, and to be honest I think you could use material from the last few months to construct a really good answer!

And for no.3 you should have a range of writers that you could use- for example Dan Gillmor who coined the term 'We Media'or sceptics of the power of social media such as Evgeny Morozov or some of the advocates of people power through social media such as Clay Shirky

There are points on my post about doing the online age option in the exam which would be quite useful here too and if you look at the posts I did previously such as this one on fans or this one on music or this on video games you might find them useful. In all cases, you should be looking for case studies which raise questions about how much the web and social media appear to offer more democratic options for the audience than what was there before. The work of Graeme Turner is quite useful for offering a critique of many assumptions about democracy and new media. You can preview his book here.

For this topic, it is likely you will look at news and citizen journalism, but you could also look at media such as reality TV and shows where ordinary people get to be stars through public participation (the 'democracy of texting'). You could also look at the creative options open to ordinary people such as youtube and how far this really does represent a change. David Gauntlett's work on creativity would be useful here.

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