Newer Media, Republican Moments and the Constitution
Elgar Monographs in Constitutional and Administrative Law series
Chapter 4: Beyond the Fourth Estate: Rethinking the privileges of ‘journalists’ in the era of new media
Thus far, I have made a series of claims about the new media and newly empowered speakers. The possibilities for ‘republican moments’ were explored in earlier chapters which alluded to the enticing prospect of the dissolving distinction between ‘speakers’ and ‘audience’ and the creation of a diversified sphere of public commentators, unconstrained by the editorial dictates of established media organisations’ corporate interests. The opportunities afforded to non-professional producers of content to give voice to marginalised and non-mainstream viewpoints might be thought to wrest a measure of control away from political and corporate elites who have hitherto dominated the production and dissemination of news and opinion. The current ‘republican moment’ allows for the airing of matters by speakers marginalised by the established mainstream media. In turn, as was seen in Chapter 2, some of these non-traditional speakers can in fact quickly acquire a following among mainstream outlets. The latter may provide a link in their online content to favoured bloggers thereby ensuring a wider audience for this content. Separately, the apparent possibilities of anonymous communication have freed up speakers to articulate concerns that they may not have felt able to air for fear of adverse consequences from employers, neighbours or family members. Moreover, the inability of audience members to identify the speaker has reduced the frequency of ad hominem responses and encouraged other speakers to focus on the contents of online communication.
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