Online Regulation

News is expensive! And people expect it for free!

News broadcasters and papers have, like the music industry before them, lost control of their distribution!

The responsibility of social media to the media environment and science.

Here is our last case study.

Social Media regulation…but in this case there is no regulatory body!

Except the social media platforms themselves!

The problem stems from one significant difference between social media and our previous case studies. Social media companies are global organisations. So, whilst it’s relatively easy to regulate adverts and news within the borders of a country, global regulation is highly problematic.

The other essential issue which prevents social media companies from being regulated is, are they a publisher or are they a platform?

Section 230 and the freedom to be a platform.

It is impossible to regulate these American companies who have the protection offered by Section 230 of the American Communications and Decency Act 1996, which states platforms cannot be prosecuted for content posted by their users.

What has been the impact of this?

Fake news? Hate speech? Racism? A divided society and weakened democracies?


Here is an opinion piece from Jennifer Cobbe in The Guardian, in which she explains how Facebook and other players in the, “surveillance economy”  have challenged the democracy we take for granted. It suggests:

“We need to confront their surveillance business models, their increasingly central position in digital society, and the power they now hold as a result.”

“As a result, some platforms’ algorithms systematically recommend disinformation, conspiracy theories white supremacism, and neo-Nazism.”

“At a minimum, behavioural advertising should be banned; other, less damaging forms of advertising are available. The algorithms platforms use to recommend content should be heavily regulated.”


As with news regulation, this is not a cut and dried argument. After all should we be allowing our governments to decide what ‘Truth’ should be available to us online?

The video below offers a counter argument to those demanding online regulation and quotes 17th century poet John Milton:

“Truth and understand are not such wares as to be monopolized and traded by tickets or statute, better to let truth and falsehood grapple”

He is suggesting we should not muzzle what we believe to be false or fake news, but allow argument and debate to flourish and in that process truth and greater understanding will come out.



The Press & Freedom of Expression.

Discussion: “Why is freedom of speech considered to be a fundamental human right?”

To answer that we have to go back to The Enlightenment and the birth of America…

You need to remember that many of the early American settlers (The Founding Fathers) were refugees, who were fleeing from religious persecution and tyrannical monarchies.

They were looking for a very different system of government, that was, according to the American Constitution;

‘Government By The People, For The People and Of the People.’

So they started to codify these beliefs in a Bill of Rights, which was then amended a number of times. These amendments were designed to state, in law, the fundamental freedoms of the American people.

The very first amendment was to protect freedom of speech and freedom of expression, because after all, if you are a tyrannical church or monarch, the best way to oppress your subjects is to ban different point of view and kill those who hold them.

So the first amendment states:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

So, freedom of expression , in it’s purest form, is about protecting the freedoms of the citizen, it’s about the right to hold the powerful to account and is essential in any enlightened democracy!

The question we need to ask in Media regulation is:

Should there be limits to freedom of expression if that freedom cause harm to the individual?

Because, whilst it’s all very well to hold politicians to account so that we can vote with full knowledge of the facts, should my freedom of expression extend to saying what I like, about who I like? After all, we do all  love celebrity gossip and the popular tabloid press makes money because it gives us what we love…

Here is a cartoon from Private Eye which draws attention to our collective hypocrisy in the aftermath of the death of Princess Diana in a high speed car crash in Paris, when she and her new boyfriend were trying to escape the paparazzi (press photographers) chasing them on motorbikes.

Then there was The News of The World, Milly Dowler and the Leveson Inquiry

Watch this video, from the BBC, which explains the story of how journalists from News of The World hacked the phone of a missing school girl, Milly Dowler, and in doing so broke the law and invaded the privacy of Milly’s grieving parents.

This sort of law breaking was a new low in press ethical standards and there was an outcry for more regulation of the press and the actions of journalists, who would do anything to get a story. So the government launched an inquiry, a debate, in front of a judge (Lord Leveson), who needed to advise the government on a new law to regulate the press.

Click for video

So, where does this leave us?

Should we demand that freedom of the press to uncover stories should have limits when their methods cause harm to grieving families?

Many editors and journalists go back to that principle at the top of this post, that an entirely free press is essential for enlightened democracy.

They argue that if  we limit journalists from uncovering genuine news stories, such as The Panama Papers or the scandal of The Catholic Church coving up the behaviour of priests who were molesting children. 

More recently:

What about Party Gate, when it was revealed by a journalist at The Mirror, that Boris Johnson was having parties in Number 10, after he’d banned social gatherings because of the dangers of Covid 19?

Or, Matt Hancock’s leaked WhatsApp messages that revealed he was more concerned with the government’s reputation than he was about care home testing or amending lockdown rules.

Press Regulatory Bodies – Old and New

The British Government at the time did introduce a new regulatory body. They ditched the regulator  the Press Complaints Commission, a model whereby the papers regulated themselves. And introduced our next case study…  IPSO, who introduced a new Code or Practice for editors, which is enforceable in law if they break it.

Here is the last video. Ian Hislop, editor of Private Eye, who refused to sign up to IPSO, explaining what this now means for freedom of the press in the UK, which he asserts has now been eroded and the dangers of that for our democracy and the ability of journalists to hold the powerful to account.

“In Britain, we have a free press; it’s not a pretty press, but it’s free!”


Edit the Padlet.

  • Above the line are examples of when journalists exposed stories in the public interest.
  • Below the line are examples of when newspaper were found to cause harm to members of the public.

Summarise the article, in what ways was this a victory for the press? In what ways was this an example of the press causing harm? First come, first served.

Weave in some theory, big ideas, concepts (representation, audience, industry, media language as appropriate) and key terms.


Who are the ASA?


  • Legal, Decent, Honest, Truthful
  • What the Advertising Codes say (in summary):
    • No advertisement should mislead, or be likely to mislead, by inaccuracy, ambiguity, exaggeration, omission or otherwise.
    • Marketers must hold documentary evidence to prove all claims, whether direct or implied that are capable of objective substantiation.
    • Marketing communications must be obviously identifiable as such.

Notes on its history.

Listen to this presentation & make notes

Task 2:  Take the quizlets x 2

Examine these banned adverts from last year.

Look through the following ads and consider why the ASA banned them where they:

  • Misleading?
  • Offensive?
  • Harmful?

Task 3:  Summative Task: 500 word submission

Please submit your response via classroom.

Media Regulation – the background

An Introduction to Media Regulation

These are some basic key terms and big ideas that you need to start using and applying to your case studies.

Communication is an inherent part of being human – this is how mass communication has developed – and given that it is now such a diverse, integrated and complicated landscape – regulating it is important.

But as societies and cultures develop and differ from place to place and time to time, so must regulation change – it is constantly adapting. 



Task 1

Who are the main British regulators?

Complete this worksheet in classroom and assign the correct mission statement to the correct regulator. They are mixed up in the document.



Media Concepts & Contexts…game

4 Concepts

The Spec says…”The AS & A Level Media Studies course is developed around the four key concepts of Language, Representation, Industry and Audience. Candidates should be prepared to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of these across all components.”

Task / Game


Print in A3


  1. Teams of three, teacher is a team of one.
  2. Deal out seven cards to each team.
  3. Starting with the teacher, place a CONTEXT card within one of the FOUR KEY CONCEPTS on the board.
    • Explain / analyse the significance for or impact of that CONTEXT TO THAT KEY CONCEPT.
      • If you can make a clear argument that all the class agree with, then you can play your card.
      • If you can’t or there is a agreed COUNTER ARGUEMENT, then you have to pick up another CONTEXT card from the pile.
    • If you can give a clear example or case study of this CONTEXT in process or action, then you can give one of your remaining CONTEXT cards to another group.
  4. The first team to run out of CONTEXT cards is the winner.
  5. YAY!

Postmodern Media Essays

From the specification.

  • the different versions of postmodernism (historical period, style, theoretical approach)
  • the arguments for and against understanding some forms of media as postmodern
  • the ways postmodern media texts can challenge traditional relationships between texts and audiences
  • the relationship between postmodernism and popular culture
  • the ways media audiences and industries operate differently in a postmodern world
  • the relationship between postmodernism and narrative.

Essay Titles to Practice:

Essay 1 (class essay)

  • How does postmodern media challenge narrative conventions of time and space in media texts?

Essay 2 (Pairs or Threes)

  • To what extent do postmodern media blur the boundaries between reality and representation?

Essay 3 (Pairs or Threes)

  • How far do postmodern texts challenge the audience to see things differently?

Essay 4 (Individual Class Essay)

  • Analyse how narrative conventions of time and space are subverted by postmodern media. 13B
  • To what extent do postmodern texts present particular challenges to audiences? 13D
  • How far do postmodern texts challenge the conventions of representation? 13A

Text 3: Bo Burnham: Inside (2021) dir. Bo Burnham

Why it’s a Postmodern Text?
  1. It is a brilliant satire (parody / pastiche) on stand up comedy, musicals, social media, children’s TV, music videos, the audience, lockdown. (Jameson)
    • He even takes a swipe at the monetisation of children’s attention by tech giants. (Ecology)
    • It draws attention it it’s own constructed and contrived nature as ‘content’. Hugely self reflexive (Jameson)
  2. Burnham also challenges and questions many grand narratives directly, through parody and quotation. (Lyotard)
  3. Finally, he is even hinting at the internet as a hyperreality and that the audience are lost in the consumption simulation. (Baudrillard)

Watch the whole thing on Netflix and then watch some selected clips below…or just the clips below, but you won’t quite get it!

A parody of Instagram profiles, posts, ideologies and audience narcissism.

A pastiche of music video performances and edits.

A self reflexive parody of a reaction video.

The Internet, The Audience and Consumption…and club singer performances.

That sense of disconnected in a world of more and more images and less and less meaning. Also known as The Postmodern Condition

Some further reading


Text 2: Lizzo Music Videos

There are two Lizzo videos that you could choose from.


About Damn Time

All Music Videos in a sense are postmodern as they are a media form that has only been in existence in postmodern times (post 2nd World War).

Music Videos are often examples of postmodern media, not only because their place as a recognised art form has come about in the postmodern era but mainly because they evidence a range of ideas about what makes a text postmodern.

Andrew Goodwin, a renowned media theorist sums up the postmodernism of music videos:

    1.  Blurs high art and low art – it is media for everyone with no boundaries.
    2.  Abandons/challenges grand narratives – incomplete narratives, no sense of resolution, rejection of the overarching ideologies of society/history – love conquers all, men are the breadwinners, god is the answer etc.
    3. Intertextuality – borrows from other texts; deliberately, unknowingly, alludes to, knowing nod to – all of which fits with Jameson’s ideas on ‘nothing new, a flatness’ or as he puts it ‘blank parody’.
    4. Loss of Historical reality – pastiche and intertextuality blur history and chronology so that conventional notions of past, present and future  are lost in a melange of images, all of which appear to be contemporary.
    5. Audience/Text relationship – Breaking the 4th Wall and lip syncing


  • Pastiche – use of a previous text as the basis for the whole music video.
  • Parody – making fun of a previous text.
  • Homage and quotation – sampling.
  • Weaponised intertextuality – deliberate Easter Eggs.


  •  Mixture of styles – cartoons, animations, dance, drama, acting, documentary, other footage.


  • Draws attention to its own construction – breaking the 4th wall, lip syncing. 

GENERAL SIGNIFICANCE relating to Music Videos and Postmodernism

  • They manipulate time and space – flashbacks, incomplete narratives usually present and they often challenge the grand narratives there is not always a happy ending, a dominant male, success after working hard for a living.
  • Play with the relationship between audience and text – breaking the 4th wall and there is often a presumption they are culturally competent, deliberately playing with their expectations. Expected to understand the media language for the intertextual references. 
  • Play with the distinction between reality and representation.
  • They blur the lines between high art and what is considered low art.
  • This is a little old now but it shows a self-referentiality (this is a music video that we have constructed) but it also points the finger at a wider postmodern scope i.e. the idea that people are lost in their hypereal worlds, unaware of their real lives and surroundings.  

Use the template in classroom to note down ideas on how you could use Lizzo as a case study for Postmodern Media. 


  • Intertextual References – referencing race, gender struggle?
  • Parody/Pastiche – music video dancers
  • Self reflexivity – breaking the 4th wall


  • The destruction of the grand narrative
    • As it challenges all of the below
      • Challenging representation of gender
      • Challenging representation of black women
      • Challenging the representation of body image


Text 1: Pride & Breadjudice (2018) Warburtons

A postmodern advert that  evidences various aspects of Postmodern media in terms of style and content.

It includes examples which can be applied to our three theorists’ ideas:


  • Intertextuality
    • Pastiche
    • Parody
  • Self Reflexivity


  • Simulacra (An image with no original)


  • Parody of the grand romantic narrative

See if you can spot the clear elements of its style, form and content that would enable it to be classified as postmodern.

Advertising often relies on that ‘cultural competence’ required for audiences to identify with the intertextuality.

It means that audiences can ‘relate’ to and ‘feel involved’ in the ‘in joke’ and therefore feel personally warm towards the brand.

How could you apply the following overarching definitions of postmodern media to this text?

Use the template in classroom to note down your ideas:

  • Plays with time and space – HOW? (historical eras blurred, references Ghost, parody of Pride and Prejudice/hip hop dancing/anachronic narrative/key quotation – Garlic Bread) – Jameson
  • Challenges the usual ‘audience/text’ relationship – HOW? (comedian playing himself playing a character/see the cameramen/catch him out of character/ad libs/consumer culture is dressed up as entertainment), expected to recognise the media language and be culturally competent- Jameson and Baudrillard
  • Tinkers with the conventions of representation – HOW? (comedy representation of a serious period drama) – Lyotard
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