Media Institutions, brands and ‘new media’

Contemporary media is far more than what we knew a few years ago – TV, radio, newspapers and magazines now have new media fellows – social media like Facebook, Twitter, websites and online media, and – what is more important – they are all interconnected.

We were asked to think about the furore over the death of Steven Gateley, the article in the Daily Mail and the response it received, and to try and connect it to the concept of new media. I also want to comment on the new media landscape as a whole – not only ‘new media’, but the new situation traditional media, along with ‘new media’, is in.

What struck me while researching the event, the Daily Mail article and reactions, was the way brands wanted to disassociate themselves from the opinions expressed in the article. Almost all brands that by some chance might have had their adverts served next to the article (off- and online) made public statements that they do not support discrimination and have nothing to do with the article. Then, the Daily Mail team removed all advertising from the article page.

On the surface of it, it seems normal – the newspaper you advertise in makes a statement you don’t support and you try to disassociate with it. Nothing unusual. But, if we turn the story upside down (forget the content of the article too), the pressure that brands put the newspaper under for an opinion expressed, and the reaction of the newspaper, means that advertisers, brands, have the power to decide what is being published and/or broadcast. This is, least to say, disturbing. On the other side, disturbing is even the fact that one person (the author) has the power to publish and propagate their personal opinion on a large scale, read by millions of people. This is an effect of globalisation (of brands and information sources) and consolidation (of businesses and media organisations).

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