A few years ago I subscribed to a magazine titled Adbusters. While still in high-school, this anti-commercial establishment magazine seemed like a fitting way to fill some inner need for myself to feel like I was being some type of an activist, while sitting on a couch reading words. Reading the magazine over the years made me fairly aware of controversial issues at hand throughout the world, especially in regards to media propaganda. After reading a few issues of the magazine I felt as if I was pretty solid on my anti-advert lingo and awareness level. I had heard the same argument from issue to issue about the importance of unplugging yourself from a hypnotized mind set while viewing any media message However, no matter how many “International Buy Nothing Day” promos or subvertisements (knocking the obvious flaws of particular brands) I viewed while reading the magazine, I still bought an iPod, still bought brand name clothes and still kept being the consumerist monster that Adbuster’s had taught me to hate.
Though it was always fairly obvious how commercial ads always had a loaded message to make you feel a certain way, with the goal of coaxing you into having particular desired and manufactured needs, I never really understood that news could be the same way. It seems silly to think now, but really, my entire life I was under the impression that if you read it in the Ottawa Citizen, that more or less sealed the deal on its validity. In Adbusters’ 73rd issue titled “The Death of Canadian Journalism”, I really got a slap in the face.
In this issue a particular one page article titled, “A Declaration of Journalistic Principle”, really summed up what should have been an obvious already we-known thing. But these four simple paragraphs were really telling me something I did not very well. The article was written by a Canadian journalist who wanted awareness in the corporate controlled and filtered world of journalism. The writer notes that four corporations control 70% of our nation’s daily newspapers, three corporations control the majority of our televised news, and one company owns the majority of Canadian radio stations.
Later, the journalist notes the shift in what it means to be a Canadian journalist, “[we] feel our role shifting from acting as watchdogs on authority and sources of reliable, accurate public information, to simply serving as “content providers” (Sean Condon).
Lastly, Condon speaks on the behalf of Canadian journalist when he says that they “call for an empowered, independent supervisory body to implemented, so that it may ensure that the freedom and dependability of the press is protected.” I know and understand that Condon is speaking about the removal of heavy control of corporations within the already existing newspaper, and television and radio broadcasting stations; however, I believe that the Internet can be seen as this potential saviour. I do also understand that there is indeed still corporate control existing within the boundaries of the Internet, but I do see an evolution in the reclaiming of public space by the average Internet user. Adbusters can be seen as a chance for magazine readers to give their own personal non corporate ideas and critiques for others to share, however, though Adbusters is popular and fairly well recognized, I believe the magazine itself is not the revolutionary medium which will change the order of media message control. I believe that McLuhan was right in saying that there will be a guerilla information war where civilian participation will mark the age where viewers and users will reclaim the public realm.