On contemporary media ecology

MEDIA: A short but important book that everybody needs to read

Melita Zajc
Melita Zajc is a media anthropologist and philosopher. Regular contributor to Modern Times Review.
Published date: June 18, 2020
Media: Why it Matters
Author: Nick Couldry
Polity Press,

The New York Times recently described Mark Zuckerberg as «the Rupert Murdoch of his generation». The statement came as a reaction to the Facebook CEO’s refusal to take action against Donald Trump tweets interpreted as inciting violence against those protesting the death of George Floyd by a white Minneapolis police officer. Racism and police brutality should not exist in the 21st century in the first place and together with the new media ecology, show that the world of today is a truly strange territory, so readings that make it more comprehensible are a great relief. The book Media: Why It Matters is such a reading – its subtitle indicating it as part of the Polity Press’s «Why it Matters» series and, of course, should not be taken as triviliasing the Black Lives Matter movement.

If the parallel between Zuckerberg and Murdoch surprised you, you need not worry. Nick Couldry, Professor of Media, Communications and Social Theory at the London School of Economics, just published a book that will help you understand the comparison. Building on the continuity between the worlds of mass and social media, he clearly shows why current problems are structurally different from those of the past, and what the true challenges for the future are.

Tipping point

The first episode of Mr. Robot, the techno-thriller TV series about the hidden mechanisms of the digital world, is introduced by a flashback where we see Elliot Alderson (as played by Rami Malek) visiting a restaurant owner who is a disguised child pornographer. Elliot, a young programmer who works as a cyber-security engineer by day and a vigilante hacker by night, has hacked the child pornographer’s computer and engineered his arrest by sending its illegal content to the police. The episode was first aired in 2015 and I still remember the gratifying feeling of seeing the justice being done – a feeling that was no doubt one of the reasons for the series’ success. It corresponded perfectly to the belief of the generations who grew up with the 1990s internet culture, who were convinced that …

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