Whether we want to believe it or not, our input as an audience and viewers is highly subjected to mediation. In other words some of our opinions won’t be heard within the public sphere. Cultural theorist Jürgen Habermas defines a ‘public sphere’ as a ‘virtual imaginary community,’ these can be opinions or thoughts about certain topics which ‘affirm or challenge’ issues explored in the public sphere. According to Christopher Neal, ‘The public sphere and the new media’, the old theory created by Habermas is ‘endangered by the power mass of the media’ through the way in which it is constantly creating new content, as a platform for opinions and ideas to be heard.
Isn’t the whole idea of a public sphere to allow people to have opinions and add to the discussion, whereas mediation seems to go against the public sphere? Yet we could also say that by having consumer control of mediation to a certain extent allows us to be a part of a new public sphere, e.g. Reporting content on Facebook. Even then however content ‘reported’ is filtered, with a team working through all reports made and deciphering which content is bad enough to be taken off and which content can stay on.
Basically, the media allows us to debate about certain ideas and issues however choose which of those can be heard. QandA, a popular ABC TV show explores this particular mediation, yes, the audience does have an input and can debate about certain issues however their questions must first be approved before it can be asked and aired, the program only selects what they want to discuss, thus mediating and controlling the debate.
According to last week’s lecture two main views were discussed, ‘The public sphere is degraded by the forces of consumer capitalism’ or the ‘Public sphere is enhanced by the emergence of different public’s, and public spaces’ but who is secluded from the public sphere, could we potential say that the media is the public sphere and we are all secluded as mass consumers, through not truly being heard?
Now there isn’t just one sphere but many. The culture reader states ‘The private and public spheres have mixed with each other, social and political organizations are now invading each other. Thus, according to Habermas, a new feudalization of the public sphere is brought about.’
This specific quote reflects and highlights the way in which the convergence of media has exceeded expectations, with users becoming more self-content driven, as well as content creation and individual expression.
It is safe to say, that the convergence of media and the consumers input has greatly affected the public sphere from what it used to be. ‘Cafe setting’ according to Habermas. We are constantly creating new spheres which allow us as consumers to engage with, debate about and be heard, in multiple ways. True, we are highly subjected to mediation, and mediation plays a key role in the power disposition between media and audience, but our individual expressions are now magnified within society.