By Stefanie Bacarella
Word Count: 647
Final Essay 2
Television is a medium that has become more participatory and democratic where people are able to create a better social environment. Henry Jenkins examines this in his essay, “Democratizing Television.” Television has a huge impact on our lives today, so people have the option of watching it in different ways. It can be viewed at home, or in its online format. Individuals are able to view what they want to watch, which makes it participatory and democratic. Social media sites such as YouTube and Twitter augment participation and democracy as well by letting people discuss anything equally and freely.
In his essay, “Democratizing Television” Henry Jenkins discusses democratizing television, and how people are able to have a voice. We are heading near a democratic television age because of convergence culture, which uses the advantages of media conglomeration as well as crafts a relationship between consumers and the producers. He also argues a shift of empowering users, from the web, is still driven by “economic calculations” (King, 279). Nonetheless, the relationship between media producers and their audience is being considered. Mainly younger viewers stress more influence over the media they consume, and how it is relayed to them. He supports the idea of people participating in terms of the popular culture they absorb, and what people are doing with it.
Nowadays, television can be viewed online and inside the comfort of one’s home. People can pay money to download television shows that they want to watch, therefore increasing participation and democracy. In this sense, television is now becoming global because everyone has access to it; now international producers can sell their content to American consumers. For example, Google and Yahoo! began making deals with producers in the possibility that they might be able to profit from the television downloads (King, 286). The more traditional setting to watch television is in the home. People either watch their timely shows that they prefer at home, or they could watch a season of episodes that is sent to their home via broadband (King, 285).
These two states are different to one another especially in terms of what is viewed more. According to the Currents in Communications textbook, the difference between these two settings are with the online format, “producers will no longer have to choose between alienating new viewers with a complex storyline or alienating the established audience by rehashing details from previous episodes” (286). Regarding downloads, now viewers of jeopardized shows will be able to vote with their wallets while a show is still on the air (286). Another difference is that viewers prefer to watch TV content online rather than in the traditional cable in the home. According to Chris Michaud, a poll showed that 90% of people prefer to watch TV content online. This is because scheduled TV is losing its entreaty for high-tech users. Therefore, there is more participation in the state of watching TV online. This was different compared to the 1960s to the 1980s. For example, in the 1960s, the first televised debate was aired between Kennedy and Nixon. This increased voter participation and intellectual engagement, and it was a means to operate direct democracy.
Social media sites like YouTube help enhance participation and democracy. Everyone has an equal opportunity to express themselves through these social media sites. They have the freedom to post a video or comment, or even share their opinions. It encourages people to convey themselves whether it is through singing, discussing their opinions on a topic, playing an instrument, dancing, etc. Additionally, it raises awareness to issues, by having individuals interact with one another in a fast way through communication and participation. This occurs with social networks like Twitter; when a topic is frequently talking about within a certain amount of time, it “trends” and appears on everyone’s feed worldwide. With the participation of Twitter, messages can be spread efficiently and quickly.