Today’s podcast was recorded as part of the first DMU International Community Media Expo. Sitting around the table was Julian, Kiaran, Ineke, Gerhart and myself. We chatted about the role and the importance of community media and what we need to learn to make our own media.
BBC Media Action is the charitable arm of the BBC that seeks to support communication development in developing nations around the world. James Deane is the Director of Policy and Research, and in his latest blog he asks if we need to rethink how we build media organsations and institutions that support democratic accountability around the world. Deane suggests that:
Access to information that people can trust, find relevant, that underpins informed democratic debate, and can hold power to account, will depend on the existence of media institutions, not just information networks. That remains the major challenge of media support. It is a challenge that we need fresh thinking to achieve.
I agree with Deane that this isn’t just about rolling-out large media corporations, or throwing open the communication floodgates to the market, and that we do need to undertake some careful thinking about what we build and put in place for the future. As Deane argues:
Media freedom and media sustainability indicators focus on whether media is free and sustainable and less on on whether they are valued, trusted or relevant to the populations of their societies, especially those outside an educated middle class. This is especially important at a time of digital and demographic transformation.
The challenge, from my perspective, is how do we harness the independent and distrubuted technologies in which we aggregate news and media content, in which ‘brands’ are no longer as importnat, but the need for trusted informants, guides and advocates is?
John Naughton writing in The Guardian makes a very powerful point about the need for trusted sources of information in developing communities. With the use of Facebook as a tool for promoting fake news, which has led to violence in Myanmar and Sri Lanka, Naughton suggests that:
We have woken up to Facebook’s pernicious role in western democratic politics and are beginning to think about ways of addressing that problem in our bailiwicks. To date, the ideas about regulation that have surfaced seem ineffectual and so the damage continues. But at least liberal democracies have some degree of immunity to the untruths disseminated by bad actors who exploit Facebook’s automated targeting systems – provided by a free press, parliamentary inquiries, independent judiciaries, public-service broadcasters, universities, professional bodies and so on.
However, as Naughton goes on to point out:
Other societies, particularly the developing countries now most assiduously targeted by Facebook, have few such institutions and it is there that the company has the capacity to wreak the most havoc.
The importance of trust in our civic and community media is crucial to promoting peace and reconciliation, but do we have the right tools to do this as independent media producers and communities? Large media organisations spend a lot of time promoting their ‘brand’ identity so that it can be trusted and relied upon, but this appraoch isn’t available to small, independent, volunteer-led community media groups.
Is there a way, then, perhaps with something like the Mozilla Open Badges project, which independently verified people’s learning, to independently verify the output of reporters across different media platforms, networks and communities?
Trust is the currency that holds society togehter, and when trust dies, our social order suffers. How can we build a new infrastructure that enables trust to be implicity validated in our media use, and what would the criteria be that would demonstrate that a reporter or a media producer is a trusted source? If Uber and Tripadvisor can do this, why can’t news organisations and social media corporations put some funding and development time into producing trust tokens for community reporters?
For the last week or so, John and myself have been in Cambodia doing some teaching and research work with the American University of Phnom Penh. We met some fantastic students and experienced Cambodian life and culture. It was my first time in Cambodia and it was completely different to how I expected it. We chat in this edition of the DIY-DMU podcast about scratching the surface, not making any assumptions and honoring the proud traditions of Khemer life, both in the city and at Angkor Wat.
As more evidence is emerging that our use of technology has negative effects on our mental well being, we might have to start thinking about how we can address some of the patterns of behavior and expectations about the way that we use social media and tech devices. Belinda Parmar, who was once a tech-advocate is now warning about the dangers of an unquestioned use of tech devices, especially as they have a negative impact on the developing minds of children.
“Tech was a leveller,” she says. “You didn’t need money, you didn’t need status; it was an enabler of a more equal and more diverse society. This tiny bubble that most of us lived in had been popped and that was wonderful. That still is wonderful.” But certain aspects of her relationship with technology were not so wonderful. “I’d wake up and look at Twitter,” she says. “I had two small children, and the first thing I should have been doing was going to see the kids, but I’d be looking at Twitter.” She realised she was using social media for validation, to feed her ego. She began to think: “If technology is an enabler, why am I just using it for things I don’t like about myself?”
This is a detailed and evidence-based article that has a lot of strong ideas about our use of technology, and I’m sure it will provide plenty of points of discussion as we begin to question the role of technology in our lives more carefully.
It’s often thought that anything goes when it comes to social media, and that we are free to do and say pretty much whatever we want because there is no control. Obviously, this is an unfounded assumption. When we post material online we are subject to the same laws and standards as any other form of publishing – liable and advertising standards being just two. Ben Chapman writing in The Independent describes how the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) recognises that:
Lines are now blurred between advertising and editorial content, leading to uncertainty for consumers and for influencers themselves, who may not know what is and is not allowed.
Under industry rules, ads must be obviously recognisable as such so that people know when they’re being advertised to. The ASA said that when people are not sure what is advertising and what isn’t, trust in the whole sector is damaged.
So if you are planning on using your social media activities to generate some cash, do yourself a favour and check out the ASA rules first and stay on the right side of the law.
Tonight’s podcast gave John Coster and myself some insight into the work of Ulike Kubatta, a documentary film maker who recently joined us at De Montfort University. Ulrike’s friend and DJ, Martina Giesa told us about her love of original R&B music, while J and Toc gave us some insight into the mind of millenials and their goals in life.
This is an overview of the topics that will be covered in the twenty third lecture for TECH1002 Social Media Innovation.