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Community Access Programming - Essay Example

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The BBC Community Programme Unit and its programme Video Nation pioneered one of the most successful community access programming which considerably facilitated the democratisation of factual mass media. Video Nation has achieved significant strides in the propagation of democratic media in that not only did it help lessen cultural stereotypes but it also allowed participation and empowerment of ordinary citizens to control factual media programming.
In the past, democratisation of factual media programming had been thought to be improbable. Democratisation, in this sense, implies a collective undertaking (Dahlgren 2), "joining people from virtually all social sectors to a common cause." Dahlgren contends that democracy is a part of a 'public sphere' (8) where media should highlight the need for citizen participation. Through their access to reliable data from a variety of sources as well as the inclusion of diverse point of views and opinion on current events, citizens will be able to shape their independent views on significant issues which will prepare them for the maximisation of political participation (Dahlgren 9). Dahlgren lists four dimensions to which the notion of 'public sphere' in the media can be applied. These include: media institution, media representation, social structure and socio-cultural interaction. Media institution includes the media's organization, financing and regulation with regards its journalistic coverage. The optimization of this institution is needed in order for the media to achieve democratisation. The most significant consideration here is the absence of constraint on coverage and communication and thus, restrictions by the government or by the media itself on programming are deemed impediments. Media representation on the other hand, refers to how the media treats its subject matter as well as how it portrays and presents its topics (Dahlgren 15). Traditional media has been criticised often for its distortion of facts and information in order to achieve commercial success. As the media is a form of business, it frequently aims at marketing most of its programmes including the ones related to public affairs. It often trivializes even the most important of issues or sensationalises petty events. Clearly, the reduction of this form of traditional media representation must be achieved in order to create a balance between the aims of the media to be able to continue its business and its role to advance participatory democracy.
The fundamental features of social structures, on the other hand, involve gender, race and ethnicity, class or social status. The democratisation of these social structures implies the accessibility of the media within the varying social constructions. Another important issue is the accommodation of the citizens in the lower rung of society in media programming. In democratisation, it is important that citizens from diverse social structure be given power and control on what they want to view or how they want to view certain programmes. This also brings about the issue of socio-cultural interaction. For instance, are the citizens of various class, gender and ethnicity given the chance to get involved in discussions and debates on significant issues Are their points of view on pressing issues ...Show more


Traditional media is often attributed to as massively responsible for the proliferation of cultural stereotypes and prejudices. Even with its treatment of factual programming, the traditional media has been accused of striving either to sensationalise or to commercialise its representations of facts and real events…
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Community Access Programming essay example
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