The concept of bias of communication has attracted many scholars over the past years. The media used to communicate to a given audience determine the nature of bias. Harold also argues that some communication platforms can retain a given message for a longer period while others can last long (Kaun 82). People, especially the political class and opinion leaders often choose a given media that can help pass their message most appropriately based on its bias. This essay focuses on communication bias and knowledge monopolies.
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Defining Bias of Communication
Bias of communication refers to limitations and reach of different media when passing a given message to the audience (Innis and Watson 34). Some of these media have the capacity to reach a wider audience while others are limited in terms of their geographic reach.
Time-Biased Media and Space-Biased Media
Time-biased media are channels used to pass messages and stories that can last for several generations (Friesen 78). However, their main weakness is that they tend to reach a small audience. Stone tablets, clay, parchment, hand-copied manuscripts, vellum, and oral sources are some of the examples of media that can be used to deliver a time-biased communication (Innis and Watson 41). Although it may not reach a wide audience, it can last long. Homer’s epic poems are perfect examples of time-biased communication. They have been in existence for centuries and are likely to last even longer.
Space-biased media on the other hand are those with wider audience reach but ephemeral in nature (Kaun 58). Unlike time-biased media, space-biased media can be used to broadcast a message nationally and internationally within a short period. Its main shortcoming is that it does not last long. Examples of such media include television, radio, and newspapers circulated in a larger geographic area (Innis and Watson 62). The social media such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram may also be classified in the group of space-biased media. Their aim is to pass a message that is relevant at that given time to a wide audience.
The Preferred Media
When passing a message to a given audience, Shipman and Shipman argue that it is necessary to select an appropriate media (38). The space-biased and time-biased media discussed above have their advantages and disadvantages. However, space-biased media has become a more preferred means of passing information. One of the reasons why the media is preferred is the geographic coverage. In the modern globalized society, it has become increasingly important to pass messages to a wide audience. As such, radio, television, and print media such as newspapers have become effective means of broadcasting messages. Kaun also notes that information keeps evolving as new facts emerge and technology keeps changing (73). As such, passing information in time-biased media has become less desirable.
Social media, which is an example of space-biased media, has become a critical socio-political and economic tool in the modern society. The media allows for instant sharing of information without having to deal with the geographic barrier. It was the preferred media during the Arab Spring because the government does not closely control it. The freedom it offers the users means that they can share sensitive issues that would be blocked by various authorities. Time-biased media is becoming less preferred because it is outpaced by the emerging technology. As explained above, its main advantage is that information can be stored for a long period. However, modern platforms of communications can also store data for a relatively long time.
Meaning of Having Monopolies of Knowledge
Monopoly of knowledge refers to the ability of a few individuals or entities to control the flow of information within a given region (Kaun 89). They define the information that goes to the masses and that which remains available only to a few individuals. Shipman and Shipman argue that universities tend to monopolize knowledge by defining a rigid method of disseminating it (133). The political class also tends to monopolize knowledge to achieve specific goals within a given society. When an entity has a monopoly of knowledge, it controls what becomes public.
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Role of Communication in “Monopolies of Knowledge”
Communication has a critical role to play in monopolies of knowledge. According to Kaun, effective communication often tries to fight the monopoly of knowledge (57). It focuses on breaking the barrier to effective flow of knowledge. It explains why space-biased media has gained popularity over time-biased media. Space-biased media makes it possible to pass information to a wide audience within a short period. It fights the idea that only a few individuals can define what is accessible to media. Through effective communication, many people can have access to information without necessarily having to follow strict guidelines set by entities that monopolize knowledge. In the past, an individual had to go through a strict system of education to learn new concepts and practices.
Bias of communication has played a major role in the transformation made from time-biased to space-biased media of communication. In the past, knowledge monopoly was common. However, that is no longer the case as space-biased media continue to gain popularity. It is easy to access materials needed in the online platform. One can learn about religion without having to go to theological college or attending madrasa. Communication continues to empower the public, and in the process, it eliminates monopolies of knowledge.
Friesen, Norm. Media Transatlantic: Developments in Media and Communication Studies between North American and German-Speaking Europe. Springer, 2016.
Innis, Harold A, and John Watson. Empire and Communications. Dundurn Press, 2007.
Kaun, Anne. Crisis and Critique: A Brief History of Media Participation in Times of Crisis. Zed Books, 2016.
Shipman, Alan and Marten Shipman. Knowledge Monopolies: The Academisation of Society. Andrews UK Ltd, 2016.