This is for Simon. The Economist’s survey of new media is a historically literate analysis, comparing the emergence of participatory media with the invention of the printing press. It’s a sober analysis too:
The availability of religious texts in the vernacular [at the Reformation] led to literalist and fundamentalist movements, and indirectly to religious wars. The surge of textual expression produced not only classics but also pornography and propaganda.
The central issue is a question of command-and-control or participation.
Generally speaking, people who have faith in democracy welcome participatory media, whereas people who have reservations will be nostalgic for the top-down certainties of the mass media.
Clearly this includes regimes, but it also refers to organisations (and this is where the public relations adviser needs to be engaging in debate). By coincidence, I see that the CIPR’s annual general meeting is to be followed by a debate on ‘public relations and democracy – essential partners?’ Interesting.