Sunday, April 5, 2009

David's Week 12 questions

1) In the Introduction to Part III, D&K describe the political economy approach as encompassing analysis of production and consumption of media, goods and services "in a modern consumer and media society" (p.200). The editors acknowledge the differences between countries can be rather specific, but I wonder if this political economy approach is 'inherently American'--not just in origin, but in terms of the assumptions it makes about 1) consumerism, 2) the relationship between private ownership and public regulation, and 3) the web of myths/stories/history associated with American individualism?

2) Of Herman and Chomsky's 'Five Filters' (pp. 257-258, et. seq.) it seems to be they've nailed it with the reliance of the (at least mainstream) media on info provided by 'experts' & govt as well as 'flak' (filters 3 & 4), but is anti-communism as a national religion still a control mechanism? Likewise, with media downsizing dramatically, and advertising at historic lows in the modern media era, is the propaganda model still valid? Is it possible to rethink or redefine the filters today? (To be honest, I think so...and I think
H&C is a fun critique FWIW...)

3) Underlying the Propaganda model of Herman and Chomsky: doesn't it smell just a little bit of the 'silver bullet' theory---? That is, is it possible that H&C have mistaken the seeming ubiquity of big media (at least as it once was) for big power? The media narrative may, indeed, produce false dichotomies (p.283), and the like...but to what effect except in the echo chamber of big media itself?

4) In Bourdieu's critique of journalistic selection (p. 330), he accuses journalists of "censorship" because they "retain only the things capable of interesting them" and "keeping their attention". Hard to say that isn't factually true, but from a practical standpoint, what is the alternative? Isn't media, minus the 'filter' (call it what you will: propaganda, journalism, etc...)
merely amplification? And if all perspectives are unfiltered and amplified, why is that not cacophony? Why is that normatively better?

5) Do human interest stories truly "depoliticize and reduce what goes on the the world to the level of anecdote or scandal" (Bourdieu, p 332), or do they not also have the power to engage otherwise disinterested people by both entertaining and educating them in an aspect of life that helps illuminate underlying issues? No they may not be 'eat your peas' journalism, but don't they serve--in their own way--the same salubrious function in pop culture media as, say, a soap opera that 'struggles' with issues like AIDS, sexual harassment, etc (by both opening the door to conversation and allowing unaffected people to see the effects of others' actions/decisions)?
David D. Brown

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