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The new media ecology

By Milissa Deitz - posted Thursday, 23 December 2010

The volume of resources now available and the decreasing role traditional news sources play in filtering news means the less likelihood of a steady diet of manipulated and pre-scripted information. With public and private domains so intertwined, every corner of power is illuminated and a potential target for exposure.

A media ecosystem is defined by blurred boundaries, yes, but in an era when mainstream media and political communication often degenerate into sound-bites, shallow infotainment and spin, a willingness to blend once distinct genres and vehicles into previously unimagined combinations is surely cause for optimism.

Not that I am suggesting the dawn of a golden age. Media as an ecology is a powerful metaphor, and one that should be considered carefully in its application.


Aside from the many factors to take into account - including political, cultural and technical - ecologies are not predictable. Rather than a closed and harmonious system, an ecology is open and unstable, driven by internal dynamics and external shocks. But what distinguishes media ecologies from naturally occurring ones is the way we can consciously intervene in them.

Ultimately an unpredictable nature can be positive because it encourages engagement. The power of scrutiny does generate change - all large public issues since 1945 including military intervention by super-powers, civil rights for minorities and environmentalism have been generated not by legislatures and governments but by power-monitoring networks that are nearly always made possible by forms of media.

Australia is a multi-media saturated society, and the constant public scrutiny potentially means no-one person or organisation is immune.

But we have not entered a utopian age. The instability and resultant dynamism of our media landscape also leads to contradictions. We still need journalism and people to provide it to take part in the public conversation. We need them to reflect critically upon all received wisdom and continue to shed light on power.

Democracy - another word for the media.

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About the Author

Milissa Deitz is a journalist and author and currently lectures in Media at the University of Western Sydney. Her book Watch This Space: The Future of Australian Journalism was published by Cambridge University Press in 2010.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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