Discovering the Screen: Information Quality and Audience Empowerment Reconsidered


Mary C. H. Shen


screen, television, information quality, audience empowerment, media representation boundaries


Situated home for more than a half century, the screen, with its technological propensity to blur social and cultural boundaries, influences the nature of not only information construction, but also information itself. This implies a strong impact on future developments of human knowledge. As the openness and user-friendliness implied in its boundary-blurring features is relatively ignored, we are not inspired as we could have been in considering information quality and audience empowerment—the two major concerns in media research. Specifying two major approaches to media study, this essay explains how communication research, with the bulk of relevant discussion, has undergone a long journey to the discovery of the domestic TV screen. It then explores the unique “cultural logic” of the TV screen as an information presentation system that has been perceived as problematic yet now treated in a new light for reconsidering quality and empowerment issues. The essay concludes that, more than anything else, the discovery of the boundary-blurring screen marks a chance to discover the often hidden receiver, to treat him/her no longer as the missing “Other” in the communication process. Therefore, the quality issue should never be a unilateral responsibility but rather a mutual endeavor; and real audience empowerment comes only from information co-construction where lies the hope for knowledge in its current legitimation dilemma.