Over the past few years, information technology seems to have reinvented people’s idea of public relations completely. Not only has modern media provided the methods to maintain constant contact with the people who are hundreds of miles away from the message sender, but also created the environment for evolution of new public spheres. Though the latter may seem flawed, they will help build an entirely new principle of public relations, which the seminar planned below will demonstrate.
The objectives of the given seminar are to define the significance of information technology and the emergence of public spheres on people and their political and social awareness, as well as locate the definition for the notion of a public sphere.
Speaking of the methods, with the help of which the seminar will be conducted, it will be desirable that the seminar should take place in a relatively small group of students. Thus, it will be possible to have every single member of the group involved into the discussion process. As for the organization of the seminar, it can be suggested that a short restatement of the key theses should be provided at the start. Afterwards, a discussion of the basic postulates and terminology should occur. As soon as the key terms have been clarified and the key issues have been discussed, it will be necessary to proceed with the discussion of the key issues that public relation specialists may have in the era of information technology.
It is crucial that the participants of the seminar should be able to embrace both the threats that new forms of media pose to public relations and the opportunities that modern media opens in front of public relations experts. Finally, an observation of the actual communication patterns in a public sphere should be carried out. For this purpose, a few discussions of a specific issue in several minor public spheres will be chosen. The topic that these discussions will revolve around will presumably concern a topical political or social dilemma; thus, the participation of all students will be guaranteed, since each of the seminar members will most likely be eager to provide their own opinion on the issue in question. It is crucial to make sure, though, that the discussion of public relationships and the role of new media in them should not switch to the debates on the political or social issue in question.
Seeing how the topic of the seminar concerns the effects of an implementation of information technologies in people’s lives, it seems unreasonable to omit the practical application of the knowledge acquired in the course of the lessons. Therefore, among the methods that will be utilized during the seminar, an experiment carried out with the help of several social networks will be used as one of the key tools.
Media and Knowledge Society: Answering Questions
No matter what one may say about the ethical issues that the use of new media implies, one must admit that modern media represents the information society of the XX century in a very graphic manner. It is very easy to use, and it does allow for a very quick information acquisition, processing and transfer (Gandy 2002).
Despite the aforementioned ethical concerns, new forms of media clearly are the best tool for raising issues and exploring the promise of the knowledge society. Being the product of their time, new media tools can be used to analyze a particular issue from several aspects. Seeing how new media tools, including social networks, have made media available to masses, it has become possible for all existing opinions regarding a specific event to be heard. Thus, new media clearly contributes to objectivity and information sharing, which help explore the promise of the knowledge society and raise the related issues.
It should be kept in mind, though, that the number of public spheres in the world in general and in each society in particular is not large. As Calhoun explains, the Internet and other communications media in general can be considered a public sphere: “such an international public sphere clearly already exists” (Calhoun 2007, p. 156). Therefore their actual number has not been defined yet, but it can be assumed that the Internet is the major public sphere, where smaller ones are located.
As it has been stressed above, it is the possibility to embrace every existing viewpoint on the issue that makes an online public sphere so powerful and significant. As Calhoun stresses, the specific environment of a public sphere predetermines that different ideas could be heard and different opinions could be voiced. Because of the possibility for users to remain anonymous, these spheres provide a perfect place to debate alternative and often controversial opinions.
In public sphere, the voices of individuals are clearly the strongest, and the Wikileaks is a graphic example of that. Providing secret and uncensored information, it offers an objective evaluation of the government’s actions. Since Wikileaks exposes the sometimes controversial actions of the government, the latter is understandably against it. Still, it is important to stress that a public sphere can be used with criminal or malicious intent, such as playing havoc, etc. The lack of control over the effect that information has on public sphere users is a serious concern for governments.
Calhoun, C 2007, ‘Information technology and the international public sphere,’ in A Sales & M Fournier (eds), Knowledge, communication & creativity, Sage, London, UK, pp. 131–155. Web.
Gandy, O H 2002, ‘The real digital divide: citizens versus consumers,’ in A Leah Lievrouw and S M Livingstone (eds), The handbook of new media: social shaping and consequences of ICTs, Sage, London, UK, pp. 448–600. Web.