If you want my view on which media is or could be free it is this. I believe the largest democratisation will come from Digital media namely still cameras and digital video. Whilst this is at present still very much the perogative of the affluent West the potential is there because crucially you can be in control of both the production and the distribution process.

In the case of digital photography you can pick up a second hand 2 Megapixel camera now for under £50 (My advice get a Kodak 3400 if you’re starting out -dead easy, good pictures, I tested my old one with a mate’s Fuji 3MP and mine was streets ahead.) You can buy a decent photo printer for around £150 and then you need a computer well let’s say a 2nd hand G4 at £500, that’s £700 all in. Now that’s quite a bit of money with regard to initial outlay but then many people will already have a computer and a printer so it is just the digital camera extra. Furthermore you do not have to shell out £500 for a state of the art digicam to take very acceptable pictures that come out very well on a 7″x5″ image. Now you have to bear in mind here that your initial outlay will save you the cost of film and developing which realistically is going to set you back in total about £10 per 36 pics. The beauty of digital is that you can snap away to your heart’s content to try to get that one perfect picture and then you can ditch the 50 crap ones. Digital cameras have moved now into the market of being something that the majority in the west has access to and will pretty much become the norm very soon. This means from a news point of view that anyone can take a picture and upload it to the internet or print it out. The potential to stifle this sort of news dissemination is far lower than the currect method using agencies for written and pictorial information.

The same goes for digital video, an acceptable 2nd hand MiniDV camcorder comes in around £250 and other than that you need a computer for the editing, if you have a Mac you don’t need any additional SW so you’re talking £750, this is where I feel the Walther Benjamin quote of film being the real democratisation of the media comes more into play. With the kit I’ve just described you can film and edit your movie and then upload or burn it and distribute it how you want, there is no process where this information has to go through some official channel that may act as a filter. If you have your camera with you and you see something going on you can have it online that day yourself, again this makes it difficult for the establishment to do anything about it.

From a political perspective it means at the moment those of us in the west have the ability to portray what we see rather than having to be dependent so much on what others report they have seen. I say at the moment because there is of course an inevitable downside to this technology. the very technical simplicity of the whole thing means that it is as much open to abuse as to use. Digital manipulation of images and film have been commonplace in the professional media arena for some time but now they are quite common at grass roots level too and this means you have to question if what you are seeing is actually correct or not.

So get your cameras and start reporting, show the world what’s really going on.

Original Comments:

Katie made this comment,
You can get as blunt and personal as you like. Thanks for the advice on Saturaday by the way. God I hope the peaks and troughs don’t get too much more extreme, don’t think I could cope. As for the ball being in my court, well I haven’t got around to writing about it yet but lets just say there have been developments in the last couple of days.
Visit me @ http://screamtoasigh.blog-city.com
comment added :: {ts ‘2004-05-25 00:02:01’} GMT+01

Annette made this comment,
What’s weird is that I just went to a film festival where this sort of thing in film was under discussion. There’s a guy who got his cheap-ass made-on-a-Mac film into Sundance. Awesome. Mini-DVs are really revolutionizing filming. This creates a plethora of unorthodox, independent films.
By the way, “git” is the coolest word ever. I love Brits.
Visit me @ http://tankgirl.blog-city.com
comment added :: {ts ‘2004-05-25 02:15:55’} GMT+01