I have done some volunteer work trying to encourage media literacy in the digital world and I find myself running into similar conceptual issues that existed before the world got online. There are core issues associated with large media companies influencing how we engage politics and economics and the digital world is not immune to it. This is even more true as the line between ‘traditional’ and ‘new’ media blur.

These issues I allude to can best be summed up by people smarter than me. As you watch/listen to the talks below you may say that the internet changes a lot of what’s brought up and I would agree. At the same time, the reach (and in some cases caliber) of citizen journalists is still not up to par with multinational massive media manufactures.

Michael Parenti gave a talk in 1993 that is still relevant today about how large media companies can and do influence the way we debate issues as a society. He opens with a comparison between a large American media company and the propaganda paper Pravda from the USSR; his criticism of the American media company is still relevant today.

Early on he talks about product placement and how insidious it can be, and today we don’t even bat an eye at the notion of including product placement into media production. Also, the threat of the “liberal media” was a debate back in 1993 whereas I thought it was a newer myth.

It’s worth sticking around for the questions, my favourtie was about the Exxon Valdez oil spill (think about his answer and how it compares to coverage of BP’s Deepwater Horizon spill).

Now take a moment and think about how you’re being exposed to this thanks to a blog. The future seems so different right? Not so fast.

Parenti’s lecture got me thinking of Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky’s take on the media in Manufacturing Consent which I watched in high school and is also, sadly, still pertinent to the media of today. Wikipedia has a good summation of their five key points of media control and you can watch the entire documentary below.