Teaching and Learning in a networked world

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Look to our youth to enrich our democratic foundations

image by Rain.Forest

Been a while since I posted to my Blog but I was inspired to write something this morning in response to watching 2 videos this morning on the protest in Sydney by school students.

One published by the Age Newspaper using streaming video linked off their papers website, the other published by the students themselves via YouTube.

Age Media Coverage via the Age titled "School kids upstaged by models"

New Media Coverage via YouTube titled "Sydney students walkout against Bush"

I think it very telling in terms of how mass media has been transformed, that when a small group of courages school students get out on the streets and passionately express their views on the state of world politics that the main stream media chooses to focus on a cynical publicity stunt by a men's magazine.

It's important to note that these young people expressed their democratic rights as citizens to speak out in civic space, a space that has been largely taken over by state security forces during APEC. This group of young people showed enormous courage to speak out in the shadow of a disgraceful fear campaign run by the State Government, Police, military & the Department of Education which warned students that they should stay away for fear that they would be met by the overwhelming force by the state in the streets and be flagged as truants by their schools. Surely a low point for our democracy, the defence of which is something George Bush & John Howard ironically use as a justification for the Iraq war.

However apart from the freedom of assembly, one other tenant of a free and democratic society is a healthy public sphere where citizens can enrage in free and public critical debate.

When I watched the Age Newspapers coverage of the event I was stuck by the degree to which mainstream media has become dominated by commercial interests promoting consumerism. It's bad enough that a ghastly men' magazine attempts to piggy back off a youth protest to promote it product but that the Age Newspaper chooses to make it the main focus of it's coverage of the event.

Some quick research on the web shows that Zoo Weekly, those who staged of the publicity stunt, is owned by Emap Consumer Magazines (UK) which is part owned by News Magazines (a division of News Limited)
Source: Magazines.org

News Corporation purchased a 7.5% stake in Fairfax late last year so basically this is a form of cross promotion by News Media for one of it's magazine media investments. Would not surprise me if went their to cover it.
Source: wikipedia

Compare that to the new media coverage on the event on youtube, the students captured the media and had it up on the site within 24 hours of the event being staged.

Citizen journalism combined with social networking technologies such as youtube provide a far more effective medium to enrich our ailing public sphere that the mainstream media.

If the president of the US and the Prime Minister of OZ wish to genuinely understand and foster the forces that will enrich our democracy then they should look to these young people not solutions based on fences, water canons, f18 jets etc.

Our democracy will only be protected indeed revived by free an open discourse in public space.

PS no good trying to watch the student coverage while at work or at school within DET NSW as it's blocked, but you can watch the biki clad babes, what does that say ... well that's another post I think ...

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  • He blogs! (like I can talk!)

    You make a good point - the online world of social media is rapidly becoming the new public space - the only space that citizens can freely associate and have their say.

    You wrote: "where citizens can enrage in free and public critical debate."... you probably meant "engage", but "enrage works too! :-)

    By Blogger Sean FitzGerald, at 6/9/07 13:00  

  • LOL yes Sean that was a typo but as you say seems appropriate. Gee I can't believe you noticed my post, given how inactive my feed has been. Thanks for commenting.

    By Blogger Stephan, at 6/9/07 14:16  

  • I have this new fangled thingimy called an "RSS reader"... it actually lets me subscribe to blogs I like with technology called "RSS feeds". I get a notice every time one of the blogs I'm subscribed to is updated. Cool eh? You should get one! ;-)

    By Blogger Sean FitzGerald, at 6/9/07 14:44  

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