Content Regulation and Impartiality?

While reading this week’s chapter in The Handbook of New Media, I noticed that one of the incentives for content regulation is impartiality, meaning that regulation of the media is advocated in part so that people can have access to diverse and objective opinions. With further reading, I found this belief very hard to accept. Verhulst cites Marcelino Oreja as saying, “…the media also play a formative role in society…they are largely responsible for forming the concepts, belief systems and even the languages…which citizens use to make sense of and interpret the world in which they live.” (Verhulst, 335)  This is an apparent contradiction to impartiality, as Oreja basically claims that the media selects which values and beliefs to perpetuate within society.  In no way is the news covered in the United States by major networks done so in a manner that does not coincide with certain democratic ideals.  If anything, impartiality, diversity and fairness are more attainable amongst the new media that is challenging ideas of regulation by the state.  It is the creation of content that is written solely to express subjective opinions, and not to abide by government regulation, that truly provides users with material that is varied and more impartial than those that are regulated.  Katie Haegle’s piece in The Alternative Media Handbook exemplifies this freedom from mainstream dominated press through her discussion of zines.  Zines enable people to produce written media that is their own view on a topic.  Their words are not influenced by what a major organization tells them to write, but are their own.  Underground writers give readers access to a first person report that is not touched by the needs of the government.  Chris Atton ties this idea together by saying that there is a shift occurring that “is less focused on the journalist as expert and the report a commodity produced by a news organization.” (Coyer, 77)  He means that by challenging traditional journalism and becoming our own writers with no ties to big networks or organizations, we can create something that is structured by our own voices, and not those of large corporations.  Essentially, alternative media gives us more “impartiality” due to its lack of regulation. Therefore, I think it is wrong to call for content regulation to achieve this same quality.  I would argue that the decreasing role of the regulation of convergent media is what facilitates (on a greater level than does regulated content) impartiality, diversity and fairness.



One thought on “Content Regulation and Impartiality?

  1. I completely agree with what you are saying. In fact, Thee is a great documentary I saw on HBO called “Burma VJ: Reporting From a Closed Country” that shows independent reporters risking their lives to report what truly happens in Burma. They challenged the ideals of the military run Burma and their government regulated news content. They did this through their use of new media and it was a truly impartial view of what goes on there.

    For a synopsis of the Doc check out this site:

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