In “Who Controls the Message?,” I argued that advances in technology serve to aid message sharing and knowledge production (Barker, 2015). New media is simply the latest technological innovation that helps us communicate:
While all media serves as a vehicle for knowledge delivery, new media represents a shift in the way we receive information. We are constantly connected. The challenge in the modern world has changed from ‘where or how do we access information’ to ‘how do we efficiently sort through the information at our fingertips.’ (Barker, 2015)
While I believe my original assessment was correct, perhaps new media has introduced a different dynamic to the communications process as well. With citizen journalists and bloggers, we are now exposed to a mass media environment that is largely unregulated. We seem to be experiencing the Wild West of communication eras. As consumers we must remain vigilant that what we read is credible. Does the author have an agenda? Does the author explore different viewpoints? How has the author vetted her sources?
Media literacy is important to help decipher fact from misinformation. Unfortunately, fallacy and misinformation are abundant in today’s media landscape. The speed at which information is expected by the public, together with the enormous volume of information, creates a scenario where both citizen journalists/bloggers and trusted media entities are tempted to publish before properly vetting sources and verifying facts. As consumers of mass media, we must perform our own assessment of the messages we receive to determine whether the information is valid.
In addition, writers who publish information for public consumption should hold themselves accountable to the highest ethical standards. Our Founding Fathers protected freedom of the press as a matter of public interest: it is in our interest to encourage an informed public that can make good civic choices. When misinformation is spread, it undermines our body of public knowledge and, thus, does a disservice to us all. In the most extreme case, propaganda can spread lies and hatred, and, ultimately, undermine freedom. The press, communications professionals and citizen journalists must be mindful of their influence and take responsibility for the content they produce.
Barker, C. (2015, February 10). History Geek. Retrieved April 14, 2015, from https://courtneyajbarker.wordpress.com/page/2/