The two metaphors described in the Media in Society text (2012) that best describe the current news media are media as interloper and media as information. Media as interloper refers to a perception of the news media as coming from a source that seems either out of touch, or does not reflect the views or feelings of the general public. This can make news media seem disconnected, alienating or even parental. Media as information is a perception that the more information that exists, the better informed we become. However, the problem with media as information is that sometimes it can be difficult to drawn the line on what exactly should be covered, and to what extent.
The perception of the media as interloper might result in a variety of ways; the example discussed within the text is that new forms of technology, such as social media, can appear alienating unto themselves. For a generation that is unfamiliar with social media, any news source that utilizes a social media platform might seem to be less legitimate to this audience simply because it exists in a way they are unfamiliar with. This is perhaps more true today than ever before, with the vast number of websites and social media platforms that are constantly spreading news stories with various amounts of credibility. People confused or unable to discern between accurate and inaccurate news reports may increasingly reject online sources altogether, relying instead on traditional media platforms such as television and newspapers. People are familiar and therefore comfortable with these types of sources, and can be unfamiliar with news that is primarily presented online.
However, another way that media might be perceived as an interloper is if it becomes seen as propaganda by the public. If news media outlets are seen as providing coverage in a way that is unethical or intended to manipulate public opinion, it will lose credibility and be seen as an interloper. In this instance, the media becomes seen as an outside force with an outside agenda. The more discredited a news outlet becomes, the more it will be seen as an interloper and it will lose influence over public opinion.
Media as information is another apt metaphor because it highlights how information is often considered a value unto itself. News sites will advocate that the more one becomes aware of the issues, the better informed the person will be. However, this could also be considered a ploy to simply get the person to consume more news. The end result is that the news cycle becomes a constant, and media sites can be found dedicated toward every type of news information imaginable, from sports to politics to human interest sites. We are increasingly bombarded with news in the same manner we are bombarded with advertising, with the justification for this social trend being the concept that more information is better, because information is inherently valuable, even if this amounts to tabloid or gossip journalism. The trend toward this type of media coverage also appears to be motivated by economics, as some could argue that these news outlets are simply responding to customer demand.
The evolution of the media for the past twenty years, along with the advent of technologies such as social media, have transformed the way media outlets operate and the way we consume news. Because more and more people are getting their news from online sources, there has been a division between traditional news media outlets and online-only sources, with each side in many instances seeing the other as an interloper. However, both sides also aim to keep their viewers or readers as informed as possible by supplying non-stop coverage, in part because news is a commodity that is ultimately funded by ratings or viewership.
- Campbell, R., Jensen, J., Gomery, D., Faros, B., Frechette, J. (2012). Media in Society. Macmillan Publishing.