The Internet as a Cultural Forum: Implications for Research

Bruhn Jensen, K., Rasmus Helles (2011). The Internet as a Cultural Forum: Implications for Research. New Media & Society , 13(4), 517-533.

Abstract: Twenty-five years ago, Horace Newcomb and Paul Hirsch (1983) proposed a model for studying television as a cultural forum – as the most common reference point for public issues and concerns – particularly in American society. Over the last decade, the internet has emerged as a new communicative infrastructure and cultural forum on a global scale. Revisiting and reworking Newcomb and Hirsch’s classic contribution, this article, first, advances a model of the internet as a distinctive kind of medium comprising different communicative genres – one-to-one, one-to-many, as well as many-to-many communication. Second, the article presents an empirical baseline study of their current prevalence. The findings suggest that while blogs, social network sites, and other recent genres have attracted much public as well as scholarly attention, ordinary media users may still be more inclined to engage in good old-fashioned broadcasting and interpersonal interaction. Despite a constant temptation to commit prediction, future research is well advised to ask how old communicative practices relate to new media.