From letters to tweeters

Media communities of opinion

Authored by: Karin Wahl-Jorgensen

The Routledge Companion to British Media History

Print publication date:  September  2014
Online publication date:  September  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415537186
eBook ISBN: 9781315756202
Adobe ISBN: 9781317629474


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Mass media have always served as central institutions of the public sphere, providing opportunities for public debate and opinion formation. This chapter addresses the historical development of mediated forums for public participation, paying particular attention to the relationship between technological change and transformations in the role of media professionals as gatekeepers in mediated communities of opinion. It argues that successive waves of technological change have had profound consequences in terms of broadening access as well as diversifying forms, platforms and genres through which communities of opinion have taken shape. In the process, journalists and media organizations have been compelled to loosen their grip on editorial control over the mediated expression of public opinion. This shift has taken place alongside – and in part as a result of – developments through which the ideal of interactivity and the valorization of participation have gained ever more purchase.

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