What has changed in our relationship with the media?

What has changed in our relationship with the media?

Unit 4 Media
agency and control
dynamic and changing relationships


How do you think that the relationship between media and audiences is changing? Consider the following:

  • Can the media influence us?
  • Do we have any power over the media?
  • Have you ever been influenced by media such as video games, social media or the news?
  • How is our relationship to the media changing?
  • Do we have agency, or does the media control us?

Dynamic and Changing

The relationship between media and audiences continues to change. New technology and media convergence has changed the nature of media production, distribution, consumption and reception.

Although new and traditional forms of media continue to exist side by side, these technologies have changed the power dynamic between media and audiences, challenging existing hierarchies, giving increased agency to audiences and, as Henry Jenkins notes, changing the way audiences fit into “networks of capital, both economic and cultural.”

In 'The Culture Industry and Participatory Audiences', Emma Keltie notes in a potential future of participatory culture “the space between producer and consumer lessens and the positions of power become closer."

Production: Individuals vs Institutions

In the 20th century, media was owned and controlled by large commercial institutions. There was limited opportunity for audience participation in the media.

New media technology and platforms, such as Facebook and Youtube, mean that audiences can create their own media.

Nevertheless, there are still barriers to participation, including: technology, capital, time, regulation, media ownership and media literacy all influence our ability to use the media in this way.

These new media platforms are owned by large, commercial media institutions which, according to Emma Keltie, results in “provisional participation”.

Distribution: Distribution vs Spreadability

During the twentieth century, large media organisations exerted control over the distribution of media products. The equipment and infrastructure required to distribute media to a mass audience was expensive: television broadcasts, for example, required expensive broadcast towers.

Henry Jenkins promotes the idea of spreadability. According to Jenkins, in this model "audiences play an active role in spreading content: their choices, their investments and their actions determine what gets valued."

Consumption and Reception

Scheduled programming vs Instant access / bingeing

Traditionally, programming was king. When television shows were on was a big deal, because the more eyeballs on a show means the more advertisers could be charged. The basic rule of thumb is that the Primetime slots are between 7-10pm, when most people are watching. Earlier in the week is better such as as Sunday to Tuesday as people go out on Thursday to Saturday nights so less people are watching.

This can also affect things such as when people will win big on quiz shows, or when dramatic things will happen on Soap Operas - hoping to 'hook' audiences early in the week hoping they will continue to watch later in the week.

With scheduled programming, everyone was watching the same content meaning that this was often used as a point of discussion with others the next day. Now with instant access on platforms such as Netflix, our conversations have changed to what content is about, to whether we have watched the content or not.

Activities and Resources


Y12 Agency and Control Dynamic and Changing.docx342.0KB


Australian media and digital entertainment preferences - Media Consumer Survey 2019.pdf8413.1KB