How to understand hybrid media relates to two major elements, hybridity and media logic.
By hybridity, the complex interdependent relationship of different forces, especially old and new, is addressed as the world is always in a transition from old to new with them forcing back with each other. Hybridity is a methodology of viewing the world in a comprehensive, dynamic and dialectical view that acknowledge the heterogeneous nature of world or phenomenon. Linear view of binary opposition is too oversimplified and crude to interpret the real world, which is filled with complexities and flux.
This view can thus be used to analyze many fields, including political practices and media, economics and culture studies. In political regimes, the concepts of pure authoritative or democratic political system are not enough to summarize the reality that democracy is always on its way and authoritarian may evolve towards a more democratic direction. A name of political system can’t define every element in the real system as political ideals are always a destination far away ahead. Different political systems may provide a reference and even impact on each other so that they become hybrid.
The media environment is also in a fluid status where collisions and combinations of serious and entertaining media forms are continuously refreshing the media landscape. We are experiencing both the boom of new media such as social media where traditional content creators using new forms, and the old media positively adapt to the new trend and innovate. Both new and old, conservative and liberal forces are learning from each other that the combinations of both sides emerge, creating an even more diversified ecology.
Secondly, the media logic is about how media influences the social, economic and political life of this world and how the boundary between media and non-media field blurs.
People used to believe that media is a reflection of the present political situations. However, the media logic gives more concerns on how media shape the public’s idea of what is politics. In other word, media is not treated as just a speaker of political elite anymore but also a powerful means to communicate with the target audience to influence their point of view. With the interpenetration of media and politics, people of both sides are now trying their best to adapt to the changes of the other force, as this process may create new elites who can adapt best to the political world or media world.
In conclusion, the hybrid media is a dynamic approach which focus on the changes, gaming and balancing of a constantly changing world. Compared to linear narrative, it is more comprehensive and eclectic from different aspects of a social change.
It is a deconstruction of meta-narrative, paying attention to mutual influence and counterforce. Also, this viewpoint is a relatively neutral and scientific observation of the world.
Reflected from my personal experience of living in China and America, the hybridity is undoubtedly pervasive in both country’s political practice. Though described as authoritative and centralized regime by western media, the Chinese government is also exploring new ways to leverage the political participation of Chinese citizens such as online anonymous report on officials of government, opening official accounts on social media and listening to voices from people, allowing online signing for public affairs. This is a result of balancing of governmental and people’s power where negotiations and compromises are made to make sure the society is stable. Censorship is also present in America even though it is the country of free speech. The polarized regime can’t survive in an unprecedented complex world like today so that amendment is necessary and inevitable in politics. In a personal point of view, this is also a mechanism of evolution of political regime to adapt to its need of self-sustaining.
However, this kind of view focus more on the dynamic part. There is still background colors of a political regime, which is hard to significantly change in a transition period.
Chadwick, A. (2017). The Hybrid Media System : Politics and Power (2nd ed., Oxford studies in digital politics).
New York, NY: Oxford University Press.