Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Core Post 3

In “The Cultural Logic of Media Convergence,” Henry Jenkins discusses the theory of media convergence and the ways in which it affects/could affect both the consumers and producers in the media environment. He says media convergence is not just a technological shift, and for the new media conglomerates, they are able to have full control over various types of entertainment interests. He offers Viacom as an example, a company which “produces films, TV, popular music, computer games, websites, toys, amusement park rides, books, comics…etc” (34). He continues to say that “convergence is taking place […] within the same franchise…within the same company…within the brain of the consumer…and within the same fandom” (34). The inundation of movie franchises like the comic book based movies, as well as the comic book based TV shows, reflect these sentiments. Media conglomerates are interested in the marketing and packaging of brands that have already been successfully sold before in order to ensure their sales with consumers.

However, Jenkins states that “convergence is more than a corporate branding opportunity” and that it “represents a reconfiguration of media power…” where people can gather together on the internet to form a social community based on mutual interests/exchange of knowledge (35).  He predicts that there will be two kinds of media power in the future: 1. broadcasting on network TV to shape national values, and 2. collective intelligence in grassroots media that will give marginalized voices an opportunity to gain visibility. He emphasizes the power of the consumers through new media (such as blogging and forming internet communities) to actively change and shape the media landscape. Jenkins assumes that “if old consumers were seen as compliant, then new consumers are resistant, taking media into their own hands” (38) which I agree with to a certain extent. Media technologies have the ability to give consumers a voice in a mass market, but are still limited within the confines of corporate interests. TV shows such as Jessica Jones (Netflix), Supergirl (CBS), and Daredevil (Netflix), among others, reinforce the ultimate power of corporate control. These TV shows appeal to and appease the critical and outspoken consumers, but are also permitted because they are in the form of the comic book franchise model that had already been proven successful.


  1. When thinking about the second prediction Jenkins makes about grassroots media giving marginalized voice an opportunity to gain visibility, it's possible to say that we are now at that point. The article was written 12 years ago and his prediction is correct. Different social media platforms and even television has given marginalized voices the chance to be seen and continue to make sure that they are seen. Some of the different groups and ways that is seen is through Black Lives Matter, the incorporation of those from the LGBTQ community into different forms of media, and many people from marginalized groups creating their own content.

  2. Thank you, Christal! Nice summary! I have to mention that this article was written in 2004, and the biggest problem for the articles studying “new media” is they are more easily outmoded and challenged. Because of the rapid development of technologies, the views and predictions are soon confirmed. Fortunately, the evidence of most of Jenkins’ views is clear to see today. I agree with your idea that the voice of the public is limited to varying degrees. As you said, in America, they are limited, "within the confines of corporate interests.” Meanwhile, in China, they are related to the government interests.

  3. This week in 505 (Interactive Media) we also read Jenkins ("Quentin Tarantino’s Star Wars?: Digital Cinema, Media Convergence, and Participatory Culture”), but his work was complicated by an additional text, “Social Media as Participatory Culture” from “Social Media: a critical introduction" by Christian Fuchs.

    In the chapter Fuchs lambasts Jenkins' optimistic perspective on participatory culture and online fan groups, focusing on his neglect of economics, politics, class, ownership, online surveillance, and the exploitation of users, among other issues. Additionally, he notes that Jenkins essentially studies the fans that he likes, while ignoring those which have “fascist potentials” such as online hate groups. Whether or not you agree with Fuchs (though I do recommend everyone read his work) I think it’s interesting to consider his perspective. My own view of the internet consists of elements of both Jenkins and Fuchs arguments, which I don’t consider to be completely irreconcilable.

    Fuchs writes, “As long as corporations dominate the internet, it will not be participatory,” (61). So although the internet may be this awesome place of interaction, community, and grassroots activism, lets also not forget that we utilize online platforms that are owned and operated by multimillion dollar conglomerates with their own agendas.

  4. I think it's also interesting to think about convergence and corporate interests vs. "resistant" consumers in light of the recent controversy surrounding Instagram's feed changes. Instagram, once a "democratic" platform for users to submit snapshots of their everyday lives into a network of interconnected content (Likes and hashtags), has become over the last couple of years a site for targeted ads and corporate promotions (based on Facebook info). Last month, Instagram announced that they were "testing" some changes to their feed: restructuring users' feeds based on algorithms of "interest" rather than letting them flow in reverse chronological order. However, the amount of outcry from the community begging Instagram to forgo this policy (see petition: https://www.change.org/p/keep-instagram-chronological) has for now, persuaded the company to postpone the decision.

    In this instance, we see corporate control actively shaping the media landscape; however it's also important to note that users (now consumers AND producers of content) are not voiceless. As Jenkins predicted, media convergence raises questions about ownership. Although Instagram/Facebook ultimately "own" the content we transmit through their interconnected platforms, the platform is USER-generated. As long as media corporations understand the power of "community-generated content" and see lucrative potential in cultivating a sense of the collective, I believe that there will be space for resistance.