wasting bandwidth since 1999

The Audience Has Checked Out

Jay Rosen offers an outstanding statement to big media on how their business is changing due to “the people formerly known as the audience”.

The people formerly known as the audience are those who were on the receiving end of a media system that ran one way, in a broadcasting pattern, with high entry fees and a few firms competing to speak very loudly while the rest of the population listened in isolation from one another– and who today are not in a situation like that at all.

Give the whole thing a big hallelujah and amen brother.

However, I also have to wonder just how large the-people-formerly-known-as-the-audience audience really is. And who they are.

Looking at the relatively small circle of people I know, certainly many of them would qualify. But as that circle increases I find fewer and fewer people who know about all the new media much less consume them.

But my circle is relatively old. Focus on a younger audience, the students sitting in our classrooms, and you’ll find many more members of the former audience.

That is what’s making big media nervous. The people they most want to attract – own the eyeballs of (to use a very condescending marketing term) – are the ones most likely to be looking around for alternatives.

While Rosen is addressing his comments to the big media companies, educators need to pay attention as well.

The same kids who increasingly make up the-people- formerly-know-as-the-audience are also rejecting the idea of one-way communication in the classroom.

Most will not physically remove themselves from school, of course.

But, unless we make major alterations to our educational process by allowing students the ability to contribute their voices to the mix, they will increasingly check out in other ways.

big media, rosen, education


  1. Andrew Pass

    I oculd not agree more with your post. Students simply don’t want to be “talked at.” Indeed, nobody wants to be “talked at.” In the most effective classrooms that I’ve ever taught the students know that their voices are not only permitted to be heard, they are expected to be heard. Without the students’ contribution very little can be done in a classroom. However, I want to emphasize that not every contribution is equal, just like not every blog is equal. The best contributions are the most thoughtful and thought provoking. The best contributions are those that are grounded in evidence but use the evidence in new ways. Perhaps the are the same characteristics for the best blogs.

    Andy Pass

  2. NYC Educator

    I also agree, and I think student participation is pivotal for effective classes. I can’t imagine how teachers who talk at kids for 40 minutes at a stretch can think they’ve accomplished anything.

    A lot of kids have tuned out years and years ago. I believe when I was in high school, I was largely among them.

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