Change and continuity

Historicizing the emergence of online media

Authored by: Scott Eldridge II

The Routledge Companion to British Media History

Print publication date:  September  2014
Online publication date:  September  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415537186
eBook ISBN: 9781315756202
Adobe ISBN: 9781317629474


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The emergence of online media is often framed in ahistorical terms. Observers have described online and digital ‘revolutions’ (BBC, 2010; Kaufman, 2012), some going so far as to suggest that the internet heralds change so radical that journalism may not survive (Hirst, 2011). Such reactions frame the internet and online media as either providing wholly new and exciting possibilities, or as unique challenges and even threats to established media. In these instances, accounts of online media and change favor the hyperbolic over the historic. When set in the context of media history, the adoption of online media begins to reflect something familiar, resonant with both the enthusiasm and the trepidation that has accompanied past technological changes. This chapter will look at key moments of media and technological emergence throughout British media history to contextualize the dynamics seen within online media.

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