What’s a media event, anyway?

If someone had asked me what a ‘media event’ was prior to Andrew’s lecture, my answer would have probably looked something like this:

Taken from Flickr Creative Commons Library || Photo credit: Cyril Attias

Taken from Flickr Creative Commons Library || Photo credit: Cyril Attias

 or like this:

Taken from Flickr Creative Commons Library || Photo credit: Alan Light

Taken from Flickr Creative Commons Library || Photo credit: Alan Light

or this:

Taken from Flickr Creative Commons Library || Photo credit: Outtacontext

Taken from Flickr Creative Commons Library || Photo credit: Outtacontext

 

You get the picture.

Turns out, while I’m not wrong about these often monumental moments being ‘media events’, it’s a lot more easier to come across media events than I’d initially thought.

Prior to our lecture, my understanding of a media event was limited to that of traditional media, where various public broadcasters would have to plan extensively to come together to focus and report on a large-scale, constructed incident such as that of the royal wedding, man’s first landing on the moon or more recently, the papal inauguration of Pope Francis. However, following the waves of new media – in particular that of the digital online world, social networking sites and mobile communications – a simple event of sharing information can become a media event when it is published with the intention of generating publicity and succeeds in gaining said publicity by effectively interrupting the audience’s regular flow of media and daily life (Murphie 2013). As discussed in the lecture, a ‘global media event’ (Wark 1994) can then happen when the audience is able to access this information from any location.

The mobile phone is a common medium through which much of the public creates, shares and consumes media events on a daily basis (heck, the whole concept of my favourite app, Instagram, and countless social networking sites are based on our obsession with creating media events!) and the fact that it is largely no longer considered strange to believe that one could feel ’empty’, ‘lost’ or even ‘incomplete’ without their mobile phone is a testament to how much we as a society are drawn to staying connected, often looking to actively transcend the barriers of space and time and hence creating what McLuhan (1964) dubbed ‘The Global Village’.

Because media always reflects society and vice versa, the increase in media events following the wave of new media is thus no surprise but I’m sure the effects placed on our culture due to this will certainly contain some surprises. I look forward to exploring the effects of new media and the changed  – or changing, should I say, since “change is always changing”? – cultural and social dynamics of our society in my research project. While that may seem like a broad statement, right now I’m still trying to wrap my head around all the new terms thrown at me and am sure I’ll have a more specific avenue of interest to trod down along.

P.S. This image below was taken with my smartphone, manipulated through Instagram using a photographic filter and finally uploaded here and hence published on a publicly accessible blog for the purposes of receiving attention and recognition. How’s that for a media event?

I create many ‘media events’ daily through the use of social media channels such as Instagram. (Photo credit: J. Bae)

References

McLuhan, M. 1962, The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man, University of Toronto Press, Toronto.

Murphie, A. 2013, Media events, lecture notes distributed in Advanced Media Issues: New Media, Cultural and Social Change at University of New South Wales, Sydney on 6 March 2013.

Wark, M. 1994, Virtual Geography: Living with Global Media Events, Indiana University Press, Indianapolis.

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