Media and mediation

I had a brief exchange on Twitter last night with Mark Hamilton (@gmarkham) that began with my query:

Can a medium be a medium if it’s not mediated? Is Twitter a medium? Should we theorize a difference between mediated and unmediated media?

My thought was that we should keep in mind a clear difference between “media” in the sense of a physical (or electronic) thing that transmits a message on one hand, and on the other, the group of people or institutions that have come to be called “the media.” It’s wrong and maybe even dangerous to confuse the two. That second group is actively mediating–filtering and selecting the information that gets through.

The term I would prefer for the second group is “the press” (also the term preferred by Linda Steiner, one of my mentors). But maybe there’s another, better way to think of these mediators.

So I pose my original question again: do we need a better way to think about the difference between passive media and active mediation?

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