Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Lecture seven: Public Media

“The difference between commercial broadcasting and public broadcasting is the difference between consumers and citizens.”
 - Nigel Milan, ACMA Conference 2005

In contrast with last week's lecture on Commercial (advertisement based) Media, this week's lecture was on Public Media; media that is owned by the public in 'common' rather than having government or sponsor based backing. As I just explained to my friend, a law student, upon reading him the above quote and him having no idea what I was talking about - commercial media focuses more on what people want to hear and see, because it's based on advertising and therefore has to make money that way, whilst public media and broadcasting sort of has a 'by the people, for the people' feel to it. We talk about consumers versus citizens we mean that consumers want to be sold to, because their intention is to buy, whereas the intention of a citizen is simply to live their life as a member of their society.

The most common examples of Public Media in Australia are:

Public Media is obviously an integral part of any society, with its role being to both serve and engage the public. Though commonly associated with the term 'not for profit media', it may generate revenue as long as its ultimate interest remains in the public; AKA as long as the money is being poured back into the media outlet itself, providing information and creating broadcasting.

Personally, if I do ever have to work in mainstream media (something I hope to avoid, probably naively) I would prefer to be working within Public Media, since I feel like its intentions are more honest - however it is important to note that increasingly, the typical method of showcasing public media has been criticised as 'boring', 'elitist', 'of a limited interest' and 'out of touch'. Thus, when presenting Public Media, it would be interesting to provide a 'youthful' or 'alternative' perspective, though once again this would be of limited interest.

Public Media must strive to:

-       Continue to produce quality - not allowing possible lack of funding or lack of interest/consumption to become a reason to become complacent in broadcasting, news reporting, etc.
-       Make themselves relevant - often public media can feel 'stuffy' or seem focussed on older generations and their interests rather than attempting to remain present, reporting current events in a contemporary manner which can be accessed, understood and appreciated by all members of society.
-       Engage with the democratic process - covering political events in a fair and non-biased manner, though many Public Media outlets have been accused by politicians in the past of leaning heavily towards the left.
-       Inform the public - maintain the critical importance of keeping the public up-to-date with news both locally and across the globe; keeping the interests of citizens as top priority as opposed to any vested interests or bias. 
-       Be independent - not allow advertisers to sway the way they broadcast.

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