New Media Landscape: Who’s Setting the Agenda Now?

“This narrative heralds the dawn of a new age in public communication, in which the press is needed less and less as a specialized institution. Its premise is simple: the democratization of access to expression through media could put an end to ‘gatekeepers,’…” (4).

Charles Girard’s article, “The Media Revolution and Public Debate,” brings light to a fascinating issue: the new media landscape. Girard presents one of the rising discourses as “the end of mediation,”  that would essentially bring an end to gatekeepers because personal accounts, opinions and “on the ground” experiences are now feeding media outlets, and/or eating them (Yes, I’m always talking about food).

The new public sphere comprises self-expression via a blog or the reading of messages through his/her phone—citizens are finally “equal” and “everyone” has a chance to access information and share with others (I put those two words in quotes because this is clearly not true everywhere).

At the same time, this argument brings about an interesting question that perhaps a media specialist or economist would venture to answer.  Does this new public sphere challenge the capitalistic tendencies of media outlets, whether politically polarized or not?  While media strive for ratings and publish content that attract audiences, do users now have more power to manipulate media content.

Some of our earlier readings allude to the Agenda Setting Theory, as developed by Dr. Max McCombs and Dr. Donald Shaw, which says that media “sets the agenda” for what the public talks about. Even though our modern capitalist society depends on the consumer, is media still setting the agenda? Or, is the landscape changing in a way that WE are both setting the agenda for what the media and public talk about, but also putting the agenda into practice?