Scholars have assessed the media as both components that shape a community as well as products that are constructed by it. My post will address the former theory in relation to studies done during the first wave of media and community, with emphasis on Stamm’s idea that an individual’s sense of identity and membership within a certain culture is largely tied to newspaper readership. Essentially, Stamm claims that people define themselves by their membership within a specific organization or group based on the medium, or even culture, that they ascribe to (Jankowski, 57). Newspapers take a specific perspective and in that sense, create a culture and belief system for its readers to submit to. I believe that this medium is capable of creating a community as people select, and in a way, form a relationship with, the paper that they follow.
The New York Times has been accused of being very liberal, and its subscribers are often labeled in the same manner, simply because of the newspaper that they read. Considering the fact that every newspaper is not objective and is slanted in its reporting, then every newspaper creates a different community that is composed of its most loyal members. Participation within these ‘cultures’ can be viewed as community formation and interaction.
Newspapers now allow readers to access content online and leave comments or email the editors, which furthers this idea of community to one of an online community. Community is no longer being looked at from a physical, geographical viewpoint, but rather from the simple idea of collectivity. The media can bring people together, whether ideologically (being a follower of a particular newspaper) or even technologically (when people can interact within online forums).
What does everyone else think about communities and the media?