Blog this: Weblogs and their effect on democracy in the media

Harry Jenkins discusses the impact of weblogs on democracy and grassroots communication to the masses and the effect on mass media.

    What will happen to democracy in the current media environment, where power is concentrated in the hands of a few publishers and networks?

    Media scholar Robert McChesney warns that the range of voices in policy debates will become constrained. The University of Chicago Law School’s Cass Sunstein worries that fragmentation of the Web is apt to result in the loss of the shared values and common culture that democracy requires. As consumers, we experience these dual tensions: turn on the TV and it feels like the same programs are on all the channels; turn to the Web and it’s impossible to distinguish the good stuff from the noise. Bloggers respond to both extremes, expanding the range of perspectives and, if they’re clever, creating order from the informational chaos.

Jenkins suggests that bloggers can reshape the media landscape.

    In practice, the evolution of most media has been shaped through the interactions between the distributed power of grass-roots participatory media and the concentrated power of corporate/governmental media. ... [G]rass-roots intermediaries may have a moment to redefine the public perception of new media and to expand their influence.