Total Word Count: 612
To ‘’democratize television” is described in the required reading as “using media to further democratic ends and to create an environment beneficial to the democratic process through unity, civil discourse and understanding” (Currents in Communication, King). Television has long since been a medium that has had the influence of influencing people’s environment and opinions. The idea behind this concept is to allow people to speak their opinions and for the public to decide what they want to hear, rather than what the CEO’s want to show for ratings. According to an online source, “During the early days of television, access to spectrum determined who owned and operated the networks. CBS and ABC became the gatekeepers of attention — whether it was through 60 Minutes, Wide World of Sports or some other such program. Hit programs essentially ensured that viewers “attention” switched from one channel to another, and with it, the advertising dollars”. For example YouTube is an online forum where people can submit videos talking about pretty much every and any topic that exists. Democratizing television allows the voiceless to finally have a voice. It is similar to the watchdog function that people expect journalist to have.
Henry Jenkins, in his essay Democratizing Television, argued that if a channel was in fact democratic, it would need to be outside the media circle and would be calling for reform of the media circle. I agree with the point where he says that in the 1990’s, digital media was going to liberate us from the tyranny of mass media, making it individualized. The uses of things like iPads, iPods, and other mp3 players have made it easier for people to ‘personalize’ their products. It has set people apart from the mass media. The “Digital Revolution”, as it has been known, is recognized as the “new age of individualism”. I think that sites like Youtube and Facebook have created a world where people can make their own videos put up their own photos for others to view. Not only do people use digital media for their personal use, but companies use them to target a certain group of people and get their message out, loud and clear. The social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter help promote the idea of democratizing television. When something goes viral and starts trending, it helps promote messages that are on sites like YouTube.
Television has been for a while now, controlled by a select group of media corporations. What is shocking is that television is something that supposedly broadcasts all kinds of shows, but the big networks carefully select the shows that are aired. So how is something so public controlled by so few? Media corporations, like ABC, for example, put pilots online for the public to get a feel and then buy a subscription for it. TV producers are looking to pull in a profit at the beginning of the season of a show and with the internet and DVDs, they could get a profit straight from the consumer, thus cutting out the distribution costs. Something that may not be ideal about this idea of democratizing television is that there is no fool proof way to filter out the things that you may or may not want to hear; views that you may or may not agree with. But it has been said that, that is the price the public must pay to be able to speak freely. We live in a world where technology is constantly changing and moving forward, so it only seems natural that the democratization of television continue, with all its good and bad traits.