In “The People Formerly Known as the Audience”, Jay Rosen declares that the audience is dead. His article is a kind of open letter to traditional media informing them that “we”, the users, have the power. By this affirmation, he means that the one-way form of communication, from the media to the audience, no longer exists. This great shift was caused by the Internet, which empowers its users and gives them the opportunity to generate content, creating what we can call a prosumer (producer + consumer) and destroying the idea of a passive audience.
Rosen concludes his article by saying that the Internet allows a new balanced form of communication between media corporations and us. However, although it’s clear that Internet gives its users the chance to create content, it doesn’t mean that people will be listened to. It doesn’t mean that people will be as powerful as mass media companies, which keep the control over the media scene and, through convergence processes, grow as behemoths of the Internet. Consequently, even if a democratic form of communication is afforded by New Media, we are still too far from this reality since economic issues dictate the rules.
Nevertheless, we don’t have only black clouds over the Internet. Perhaps we don’t have the power to overcome media business, but we do have a power. I’ll explain my point: as prosumers create content and claim for an audience, they tend to form networks that will read and interact with each other’s contents. Thus, we have the power of creating small (and sometimes big) online communities. As time goes by, these networks have the chance to change some social patterns and influence on the way we perceive ourselves.
In addition, as the new medium can work as an extension of human minds, people tend to pay more attention to the digital collective memory, rescuing important events when necessary and making them circulate in order to promote democratic attitudes. One example can be seen in the campaign against Marcos Feliciano, who was chosen to head the Brazilian Commission of Human Rights despite his racist views. In this case, the Internet played an important role as a place for dialogue and also as a memory tool, since Feliciano’s words were rescued and circulated, alerting people about his dubious personality.
Well, from online communities to political participation, I guess New Media brought us some power.