Bridging the Gulf Between Mainstream and Diasporic Public Spheres

This project will address the current gap in literature about the role of public service broadcasters in reducing alienation of BMEs in the mainstream public sphere. Most of the research about the BMEs has focused on digital participation in their particularistic media. For example, Landzelius’ (2006) edited book explored “the influence of the internet on the lives and routines of indigenous and diasporic peoples” (ibid).

But lack of media literacy among BMEs is a consistent finding in literature. For example, “traditional literacy, meaning reading and writing (either in the language of origin or in the language of the host country), may also be an obstacle for many immigrants who have not been formally educated in either the home or host country” (Matsaganis et al, 2011, p. 65).

However, these obstacles are less of a hindrance when media targets second generation immigrants. For example, “online ethnic media that consciously target second generation audiences are emerging in many places. These often seek to appeal to conglomerate identities of a growing number of second-generation youths who identify, for example, with a conglomerate ‘Asian’ identity rather than a more specific ‘Chinese-American’ or ‘Korean-American’ identity” (ibid). My study of African Broadcast websites (2006) is an example of how African youths identify with conglomerate African identity.

While these outlets have enhanced freedom of expression and projected the perspectives of BMEs about public issues, they have not tackled the root causes of alienation. It is from this standpoint, that the author believes that the Channel 4 digital project could potentially reconnect the parallel public spheres. The project will be studied from organisational and audience approaches. The former will entail an ethnographic study of Channel 4’s project on young black teenage men including the UGC component which Stuart Cosgrove, Director of Creative Diversity, confirmed will start in late 2011. The study will focus on editorial policy, moderation process and ethics/house rules, sensitivity to cultural and religious sensibilities, project resources, views on the parallel public spheres; and the impact of the digital projects on reducing alienation among BMEs.