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Paul Bond

Some thoughts on Hamelink

2 min read

I came across this article the other week and wrote down a few thoughts:

Hamelink, C. (1976). An alternative to news. Journal of Communication 26(4) 120-124.

"A new 'information literacy' is necessary for liberation from the oppressive effects of the institutionalized public media."

"Oppressive" feels like too strong a term to me, but what he's saying is that the media are controlled, and also a means of control. What the public knows is what they are told. I don't quite buy it, because people can question what they are fed. They don't have to accept it as true, or the whole truth.

He envisioned "alternative information networks" - an internet, perhaps? The charcteristics he lists - documentation, investigative journalism, independence, network, accessibility, suggest the web. Note the sixth characteristic, "Confidence that all people are important sources of information" and how it aligns with user-generated content and Wikipedia.

He lists some alternative news organizations, but recognizes that they are not enough, and are really just more of the same thing, another channel subject to the same kind of control. He ties this to Freire's banking concept, with the media and the public playing the roles of teacher and student.

"The first step toward 'information literacy' is to ecognize that access to information starts from where the information users are."

It's all about context. Messages come with context, in a context, to an audience in a context. Contexts should be recognized, and can be changed.

He calls for environments where people can access and interact with information and each other, "at [their] own initiative and in [their] own perceived self-interest." These environments should be networked together, and give people the power to create information. Again he was envisioning the web, even leading to a vision of e-government, suggesting that "the infomration-powerful and the information-powerless ... reverse roles" and engage in "community decision-making."