Critical Analysis of The Development from A Broadcast Culture To "Participatory Culture" - Free Paper

Published: 2024-01-04
Critical Analysis of The Development from A Broadcast Culture To "Participatory Culture" - Free Paper
Essay type:  Analytical essays
Categories:  Culture Analysis Society
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1833 words
16 min read


Broadcasting has been used as the primary method of passing information to the end-users and consumers who are the viewers and the listeners. Broadcasting has been the primary method that was in existence for the passing of information on various ideas and cultures to a big mainstream audience. Broadcasting is distributing video or audio content to an audience dispersed via a mass communications medium but was mainly tied to one medium. This is through the transfer of electromagnetic waves in one too many models. The receiving parties of the information being projected are a small subset of the general public consisting of anyone with the receiving equipment and technology. Participatory culture can be understood as the wide range of activities that users perform in the digital age. It is the culture in which artistic, civic engagement and artistic engagement are oriented toward creating and sharing a person’s creation. It can also be viewed as a culture in which consumers are actively engaged and converted into prosumers who are active in creating and spreading new content. It is a culture in which private individuals are not only consumers but also referred to as producers or contributors that are enablers for the people to work together. There have been developments over time from the broadcast culture to what can be referred to as the participatory culture. This paper seeks to critically analyze traditional broadcasting culture and participatory culture concerning the progression of critical media and communication technologies, exploring the various factors that contributed to the rise of innovations and the impact that the technologies have had on society. It is essential to highlight the arguments of various scholars to understand the evolution in detail.

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Critical Analysis

According to Jenkins (2006), the media has evolved from the traditional culture to a new culture that can be understood as a participatory culture. The traditional broadcast culture consisted of sources of old media sources that were approved by the government or sponsored by some organizations. A participatory culture is, therefore, a newly evolved culture with minimal barriers to civic engagement and various forms of artistic engagement, informal membership where information is passed from the most experienced in the industry to the novice that is just starting up, and strong support for the creation and sharing of content.

According to The Paley Center for Media (2016), military use was among the top recurring themes in the innovation and development of new technologies in the media. The Cold War propelled the mainstream exposure that television received. The breakthrough in modern media was when radio was introduced. It changed how people could consume data and communicate. It was important for the people in the military since communication was made more accessible. Society was, however, catapulted into the future in the 20th century with the invention and mainstreaming of the mobile phone, the television, and the radio.

According to Leiner et al. (2016), the introduction of the Internet by the military for cross-communication for international connections was underway before it was later publicized to be used by the general public. The internet, computers, and televisions were developed at almost similar times. However, only television was made mainstream media as the computer waited for the internet to be publicized. The technologies were popularized to spread propaganda and fear of war amongst people but managed to stand the test of time to become the most effective invention that changed the future of communication.

The broadcast culture era began when the inventions that were made created ways to draw the public and keep them entertained. The radio created a big wave in the impact it had brought to society. A new medium of transmission was found for radio plays, current affairs and news, and music. Personnel from the military who were well-trained in the radio's operations were able to apply their knowledge and skills to bring unmatched entertainment to the airwaves (Sterling 2013). These broadcasts by independent retired military personnel were among the top examples of participatory culture that would later develop in the technological age.

Although the television and the radio collected people together to experience entertainment and news, the computer was able to do this and much more without making one leave their home's comfort. According to Johnston (2016), participatory culture started to gain traction during this time, with the communication setting the need for social interaction. The development of user-generated content similar to the content by the radio operators of the 1930s and yet easy to understand made it different from the previous broadcast culture. Among the many similarities between the traditional broadcast and the participatory culture, the most notable one is that they encourage participation and inclusion among their subjects. Elements of the broadcast culture have combined with the new participatory culture to a point where it is easy to distribute media online with no formal training.

Impact of Broadcast Technology on Society

The media was owned and dominated by a few individuals who were of the wealthy class in society. The wealthy could manipulate the mass society to their satisfaction by feeding them what they deemed best. Among the evidenced influence of the media over the people at the time was in the hypodermic theory. The theory was also known as the bullet theory. It engulfed the idea that the media's message is sent directly to their audience. It is assumed that the media sends the message to the right people (Simonson et al., 2013). The idea was developed were more than a 32million people heard in terror that the world was under attack from aliens. This was from a broadcast of War of the Worlds being broadcasted on October 30, 1938, by H.G Wells. That theory demonstrates how much power the media had over the audiences and how much the broadcast media was dangerous. Broadcast media was the standard means of sending information to large masses. As the only popular means of passing information, broadcast media was most common among households of the time, with many following closely events that were being broadcasted. Despite the story being a false one, the masses believed in the information, which showed the power that broadcast media had on the people.

The introduction of the television brought the most similar effects to that of the radio. Moving images had given people a new experience since they could see moving images from their homesteads. This revolutionary development enabled people to view the world from a visual medium. However, it did not fail to come with its fair share of concerns. Parents at that time were worried that their children would, in the end, be exposed to a lot of sexual and violent scenes (Simonson et al., 2013). Visual images had many impacts because the people who watched the television believed that the occurrences there were true. The audience had no control over the type of content they were receiving, and they had to settle with the content that was being offered.

The most significant moment of the broadcast culture was the presidential debate between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon. The race was tight, and the people had divergent views based on the medium that they used. The people who were listening to the radio thought Nixon sounded better experienced and was the ideal candidate. However, the people who watched the debate on television thought Kennedy was well-presented and attractive compared to his competitors. This made the viewers view the debate, with Kennedy being viewed as the most trustworthy (Jenkins, 2006). This debate between the two aspirants was a clear indication that imagery had more impact on the audience. Two different groups had different and divergent views based on the medium that they used. This led to the conclusion that the medium used is the message. This was a show of the culture shift from when the people were heavily dependent on the radio's information. The shows that were being displayed on the screens of the war showcased just how broadcast media can be used as a tool for mass manipulation.

Scholars have argued that participatory culture has had a load of impact on society, which includes the provision of peer-to-peer learning. Learning among peers has been made easier through participatory learning (Jenkins, 2006). Creating content to educate people on the various ways to go about something has made the teaching of things more manageable. Peer learning has been identified as one of the effective methods of learning.

There is also a visible change in the attitude that has towards intellectual property. Intellectual property can be understood as property, which includes the human intellect's creations that cannot be touched. The development of the internet has led to the growth in sharing the content that people share (Tombleson & Wolf, 2017). However, this sharing of ideas has led to the increase of intellectual property rights to protect the creation of a person's mind from someone picking them and using them as theirs. The children and the youth have access to the interaction with popular culture. This has both a positive and negative impact. This is because a positive interaction will lead to the kids acquiring key competencies and skills from the popular culture (Jenkins, 2006). The negative side is that parents do not have full control of the content that their children interact with on the internet, and they may be recruited into the wrong groups in their online interactions.


The critical analysis of the development of media from the broadcast culture to the participatory culture has shown that society has been able to evolve from a controlled means of information to the latest standards that allow for the free expression of persons. The presence of the military is visible in the contribution towards innovation and distribution to the mainstream. There is clear visibility in the similarities that the two cultures hold in their effect on society. They are both in support of the participation and inclusion of people in their activities. The evolution of participatory culture has enabled people to become content broadcasters without any form of qualification.


Jenkins, H. (2006). Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: Media education for the 21st century. An occasional paper on digital media and learning. John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Johnston, L. (2016). Social News Journalism Evolution? How the integration of UGC into newswork helps and hinders the role of the journalist. Digital Journalism, 4(7), 899-909.

Leiner, BM, Cerf, VG, Clark, DD, Kahn, RE, Kleinrock, L, Lynch, DC, Postel, J, Roberts LG & Wolff, S.(2016), ‘Brief History of the Internet’,

Simonson, P., Peck, J., Craig, R. T., & Jackson, J. P. (2013). The history of communication history. The handbook of communication history, 13-57.

The Paley Center for Media 2016, ‘Red Scare: The Cold War & Television’,>

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