Stopping Social Media-Is This Evidence Of Its Impact?

March 20, 2014

By MARCUS BREEN, Professor of Communication and Media, editor of the International Journal of Technology Knowledge and Society, and member of the Institute for Law, Government and Policy.

Speaking at Dublin City University in February 2014, my presentation was titled: “Uprising: What happens next?”I addressed the political chaos in Egypt where reports of the influence of Social Media and the impact of the Internet have been strong. In my view Social Media has been generating hyper-fragmentation among interest groups in society, giving rise to “ideological grooming” which continues apace.Researchers are notoriously brave or reckless in theorizing technological determinism in the quest for democracy. Count me in that lot.Now there is evidence of real impacts as opposed to marketing claims from techo-boosters parading as researchers – I know the terrain is complex, but the point is worth making less researchers become corporate shills. (definition of shill: a person who publicizes or praises something or someone for reasons of self-interest, personal profit, or friendship or loyalty).Turkey Prime Minister quote:”We are determined on this subject. We will not leave this nation at the mercy of YouTube and Facebook,” Erdoğan said in an interview late on Thursday with the Turkish broadcaster ATV. “We will take the necessary steps in the strongest way.”

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Ukraine Readers On The Public Interest

February 27, 2014

By MARCUS BREEN, Professor of Communication and Media, editor of the International Journal of Technology Knowledge and Society, and member of the Institute for Law, Government and Policy.

This week has been momentous for the Ukraine. In Europe – or at its doorstep – live ammunition has been used against protesters, killing perhaps hundreds.And this week, more people than ever in Ukraine read my blog. It was the blog about public broadcasting and the public interest. It is 16 people so far, a tiny number. However the “surge” in readership suggests an interest in the relationship between the state and public broadcasters, between private interests and government.This is the political economy of media.

There are differing sets of questions and concerns:

  • how government media institutions respond to vested interests;
  • how public broadcasters respond to governments;
  • and a third set of interests is what private media companies do.

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“Vacuum Cleaner Approach” – NSA Electronic Eavesdropping And The Public Interest

October 24, 2013

By MARCUS BREEN, Professor of Communication and Media, editor of the International Journal of Technology Knowledge and Society, and member of the Institute for Law, Government and Policy.

New York Times coverage of the National Security Administration (NSA) files leaked by contractor Edward J. Snowden, has allowed that newspaper to ask consistently pointed questions about government intrusions into communication. The coverage has been pretty modest in the way it has channelled public outrage, yet mindful of the obligations of public media. More significantly, the Times has offered helpful insights into the operations of government in the digital era.

The license it has taken to describe some of the actions of the US Government agencies – especially the NSA – has met some of the key requirements of public interest theory. The Guardian has been more pointed still. The NSA Files

Describing the collection of French data as a matter of national sovereignty for France (20 October 2013), the Times has raised the public interest bar. Reporting that the NSA recorded 70 million digital communications between December 10, 21012 and January 8, 2013, the Times has opened up questions about the US approach to international relations in the digital era. Everything is being impacted by digital communications, even national sovereignty. Some academics have suggested that sovereignty is no longer a useful category. Try running that proposition past any national leader, against the background of the US vacuum cleaning private data outside the US.

Everything is sucked into the digital vortex. vacuum cleaning data The French, the Germans, the Brazilians are right to complain. Any complaints from the Australian Government? The  history of Australia is that there are few if any complaints, as Australian Governments go out of their way to be compliant with super power wishes. The words “Australia” and “national autonomy” are unlikely to appear in the same sentence. Most critics would describe this as a rather pathetic track record on Australia’s part.

Edward J, Snowden (the NSA files leaker) and Wikileaks security files offer insights into the normalised world of US “electronic eavesdropping” in a way that confirms fears that Big Brother is everywhere. Securitization – scrutiny of all communication, private and public under the umbrella of national security interests – can be assumed. It is the culture.

I am suggesting that new questions have emerged because of the scrutiny of digital communications by the NSA and the securitization vortex into which we have all been drawn. I am asking how the public interest can be defined in the current context, a context where security has redefined everyday life.

[* Note: This blog was first posted to Professor Breen’s personal blog, breencomments.blogspot.com.au]


The Public Interest – A Crucial Discussion

April 12, 2013

By MARCUS BREEN, Professor of Communication and Media, editor of the International Journal of Technology Knowledge and Society, and member of the Institute for Law, Government and Policy.

The Public Interest is NOT what the public is interested in!

What is The Public Interest?

During the heated discussions about media regulation and a proposed Public interest Advocate in Australia over the weeks of March 12 – 21, 2013, the point has been made that there should not be a public interest test for Australian media, in part because no one knows what the public interest is.

The conservative Liberal Party shadow minister for communication Malcolm Turnbull made statements to that effect, while claiming to be a lawyer.

What is the public interest? (Minister) Conroy couldn’t even tell us what the criteria for public interest was. (ABC Radio Interview)
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Define The Public Interest – Australian Hysteric

April 10, 2013

By MARCUS BREEN, Professor of Communication and Media, editor of the International Journal of Technology Knowledge and Society, and member of the Institute for Law, Government and Policy.

Blandishments, blather and bombast emanates from conservative politicians in Australia and their megaphone media organisation News Corporation.

As noted in my blog 13 March 2013:  “The evidence is clear from this coverage why a Public Interest Test is needed in Australia. Surely the coverage by the News Corporation press proves how the public interest is rejected in favour of the status quo.”

The opposition to The Public Interest Test proves the need for the test. There is every reason to believe that News Corporation wants to kill off the concept of the public interest. Maybe their extreme opposition arises from the knowledge that in their heart of hearts they know they are manifestly wrong, that they do not serve the public and as such fail to meet some of the standards that journalism seeks to uphold.
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Australian Media Regulation – Public Interest Test

April 5, 2013

By MARCUS BREEN, Professor of Communication and Media, editor of the International Journal of Technology Knowledge and Society, and member of the Centre for Law, Governance and Public Policy.

On March 12, 2013 the Federal Government of Australia launched a new policy proposal for regulating the media. It is the official response to the two media inquiries covered previously on this blog: The Convergence Review and the Frankenstein Inquiry. (This mirrors some of the activities and debates now playing out in the UK, following the Levenson Inquiry).

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy put the proposals forward in a press conference, that to my mind at least, did not convey the level of intensity that is required for governments to launch major policy initiatives, especially ones centred around public interest theory.

Indeed, the biggest news in the policy proposal is the idea for a public interest media advocate. Here are some of the points highlighted in the Ministers Press Release:
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Social Media Legal Risks For Journalists – Guide To Staying Safe In The Web 2.0 Era

November 14, 2012

By MARK PEARSON, Professor of Journalism and member of the Institute for Law, Government and Policy.

Industry upheaval has prompted many journalists to retool as bloggers, multimedia producers and social media editors – each with its own set of legal risks.

These roles present exciting new dimensions to journalism – conversations and engagement with audiences, instant global publishing at the press of a button, and new opportunities to share content. But they also present levels of legal exposure most twentieth century journalists did not envisage.

Most of the principles covered in the dusty old media law tomes on a journalist’s bookshelf still hold true for defamation, contempt and confidentiality, but their Web 2.0 application is still being clarified by the courts and reporters and editors need to be aware of their personal legal liability across a range of risk categories.

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