Publics & Counterpublics

Media production has had numerous impacts on the society today. Some of the impacts include; educating the masses, entertainment of the people, spread of important and vital information to the public and also the emergence of the publics and counterpublics. In this piece of literature, we will focus on how media production has brought about the emergence of the publics and counterpublics. As far as media and communications is concerned, publics can be defined as large groups of people with a collective set of common beliefs, who are or may not be organized, and that they have an indirect or direct contact or association with a media group or a communication technology (Rollwagen 2014). These groups of people may include; the customers, employees, students and investors among other groups (Rollwagen 2014). Counterpublics on the other hand can be described as the arguments or politics that mainly focus on challenging the status quo or in other words the arguments that offer alternative knowledge from the dominant disclosure among the members of a particular public (Rollwagen 2014). With this in mind, it is correct to say that media production, including all the communication technologies and their attendant industries respectively have resulted to the emergence of the publics and counterpublics.

History and Theory

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Over the years, man has worked very hard to ensure he improves the technologies of how he communicates. All this was in a bid to increase the efficiency and how fast messages are relayed from one party to another (Pough 2015). With these technological advancements, media productions have been seen to work effectively to an extent where it results to the emergence of the publics and counterpublics (Pough 2015). For instance, one of the breakthroughs of man in the field of media and communication was the invention of the television. In the 1890s, an English scientist was able to develop a device which would display pictures on its screen. Numerous studies and research were made to a level where there was mass production of the modern television set, which are presently almost in every household (Pough 2015). The television sets are useful in the relaying of information and entertaining. Focusing on these uses of the television set, we can deduce several ways in which it has resulted to the emergence of the publics and the counterpublics due to the huge masses it influences. 

The publics that emerges from the media production and communication technologies is usually viewed in a number of ways. The word ‘public’ can be used to refer to the general audience to which the message conveyed from the media and communication technologies reach. On the other hand, the word ‘public’ can also be used to refer to the specific groups that may emerge as a result of the effectiveness of the media industry, ranging from the film directors, fans, actors, and broadcasters among other specialized groups. Here, we will focus mainly on the publics, the specialized groups that usually result from the effectiveness of the communication system of a region and its media productions.

Case study

The film industry, as an aspect of the communication technology has been in existence for ages. Though its history cannot be clearly defined, the public and commercial screening of films can be dated back to the 1890s, with the screening of the film ‘Lumiere brothers’ in France (Pough 2015). Earlier films had been screened but there were a number of concerns that made them not to be documented. The concerns included; lack of the momentum to move the industry to a global recognition and success and also the poor quality of the screenings. After the screening in France, there was a great breakthrough in the film industry seeing the emergence of numerous film production companies all over the world. With this, the film industry shifted from being a novelty to being a complete establishment of the mass entertainment industry (Spector, Merrill, Elen & Bishop 2014). In the 1900s, films were developed to increase in duration as compared to the earlier ones which usually lasted a few minutes. The first film with a reasonable duration was produced by an Australian producer in 1906, resulting to numerous developments by the film producers of the other film production companies (Pough 2015). After 1910, various actors started receiving recognitions for the characters they played. This resulted to the development of the acting career as many individuals were motivated to join the industry. The people who were already in the acting industry were motivated to work even harder to attain the highest levels of stardom in the industry (Pough 2015). These developments also resulted to the regular exhibition of newsreels, resulting to the emergence of the reporters, journalists and the broadcasters (Pough 2015). With this, it is quite clear that the film industry as part of the general media production had already led to the emergence of publics like the group of actors and the media personnel mentioned above. 

Hollywood is a neighborhood in the central region of Los Angeles in the state of California. It is usually referred to as the home of the United States’ film industry. In the 1870s Hollywood was a small community of families that lived together on a 480 acre piece of land. It was later on incorporated as a municipality in the city of Los Angeles. However, the relevance of Hollywood in the entertainment scene started showing in the 1950s, when the Capitol Records Building was erected (Rohde, Zahnd & Whitaker 2017). Several entertainment landmarks were later on build including the Hollywood walk of Fame which was built in 1958, to serve as a tribute to the artists who had graced the entertainment scene earlier (Pough 2015). From that period, there were numerous developments in this place as home of film production in the United States. Its popularity crossed the borders to be known and appreciated all over the world. The great works of film making and entertainment through theatre and movies has greatly and evidently resulted to the emergence of the publics and counterpublics in equal measure. A number of publics for instance; producers, actors, funs, film producers among others have emerged. On the other hand, counterpublics that may result from the power of competition among the various film production companies have also graced the scene throughout its development.

One of the major publics that emerged due to the film works and development of the industry in Hollywood is the group of the film directors, usually referred to as the producers. As the title suggests, these are the individuals who coordinate and direct the production of a film (Rollwagen 2014). The main role of these film directors is to give a film its dramatic and artistic aspects, making it to serve its core objective which is usually to entertain the audience (Rollwagen 2014). The film directors also guide the actors and the technical crew involved in the production of the film towards achieving the intended goals of the film production, basing on the script of the play (Pough 2015). Other parts played by the film directors involves; designing the style of production, choosing the cast members and also being creative on the matters that involve the production of the film. The main reason for the emergence and growth of this public is because of how well the film industry pays. This has served as the motivation behind the many film producers that have been seen to be flourishing in business since the early days of Hollywood. Some of the common names as far as film production in Hollywood is concerned include; Robert Wise, Joseph Mankiewicz and Frank Capra among others. There great work has served to inspire numerous young people who are now focused to join the media production field mainly as film producers, thereby resulting to the general growth of the public of the film directors. Some other organized publics that have emerged due to the film production industry in Hollywood include; actors, camera specialists, musicians and the video editors among others (Pough 2015). The other publics that have resulted from the film industry in Hollywood which are not properly organized may include the customers of the film products producers and the fans who are usually scattered in all parts of the world among other groups (Pye 2015).


All the success of the film production industry in Hollywood can be attributed to some of the parameters of media production industry that have been put in place. The parameters responsible for the success in Hollywood so far include; the well developed and advanced media technology, the specialization on one media industry which is majorly video production, the power and hegemony the place has over other film production areas and finally the good manner in which the concept of public sphere has been embraced (McQuail & Windahl 2015). In this analysis, we will focus on how every parameter has contributed or influenced the film production industry in Hollywood to the level of causing the emergence of publics and counterpublics.

Among the major factors for the success of the film production industry in Hollywood is the highly developed media technologies. Being an esteemed town in pone of the most well developed countries in the world, Hollywood is well equipped technologically to ensure that every aspect of film production runs smoothly and conveniently (Rollwagen 2014).  The federal government of the United States usually allocates funds to this place to ensure all technological equipment that are vital for the production of high quality films are purchased in order to maintain its high level of performance (Katz, Lazarsfeld & Roper 2017).  This has also resulted to the emergence of the public of the technicians who deal with the filming equipment. Some of the equipment bought includes; high quality cameras, sophisticated computers for the editing and storage of the filmed work, well designed sound systems and light providing equipment among others (Katz, Lazarsfeld & Roper 2017). On the other hand, social media has served as the counterpublic for the film production in this region, where ideas aimed at challenging the status quo are presented. This equipment used in film production in Hollywood is usually the best, thus the endless success of the film industries in this region.

Other than being involved in the production of a wide range of media industries, Hollywood is known for the production of movies. The simple fact that Hollywood has focused mainly on movies and video production is one of the main reasons for the success of the film industries based there. It has enabled the actors, the film producers and all other publics involved to focus on this one media industry, thereby channeling all the resources and energy in the movie production. With this, the movies produced are automatically expected to be world class and entertaining. Though critics, who act as the counterpublic in this case, may say that the film producing industries here, are sleeping on their potentials, it is usually very wise to major in what you are best in. Specialization has resulted to the emergence of the public of movie specialists and video editors. This has been the secret behind the immense success of the film industry in Hollywood.

The power and hegemony the film industry in Hollywood exhibits serves as confidence booster and motivation to do great work. Though this at some point was almost the reason for the downfall of Hollywood, due to competition among the individual film industries, it was later embraced positively. This has encouraged the spirit of positive competition and benchmarking among the film production companies in Hollywood, thereby resulting to the great success. This hegemony shown by Hollywood intimidates its rivals who may offer counterpublic opinions, making it to remain at the top as the leading film destination in the world.

One of the main reasons for the success of Hollywood is how the publics and the film industry as a whole embrace the concept of public sphere. The public sphere is usually defined as the social platform in which individuals and groups are allowed to offer their opinions on specific matters and subjects (de Valck, Kredell & Loist 2016). With this, counterpublics are usually welcomed, and the arguments assessed. This has promoted teamwork and friendliness among the film production companies situated here. This as a result has made the film industry in Hollywood a complete success.

In conclusion, it is therefore worth noting that media production, in this case, film production in Hollywood has greatly contributed to the emergence of publics and the counterpublics in the society today.


de Valck, M., Kredell, B., & Loist, S. (Eds.). (2016). Film festivals: History, theory, method, practice. Routledge.

Katz, E., Lazarsfeld, P. F., & Roper, E. (2017). Personal influence: The part played by people in the flow of mass communications. Routledge.

McQuail, D., & Windahl, S. (2015). Communication models for the study of mass communications. Routledge.

.Pough, G. D. (2015). Check it while I wreck it: Black womanhood, hip-hop culture, and the public sphere. Northeastern University Press.

Pye, L. W. (2015). Communications and Political Development.(SPD-1). Princeton University Press

Rohde, U. L., Zahnd, H., & Whitaker, J. C. (2017). Communications receivers: principles and design. McGraw-Hill Education.

Rollwagen, J. R. (2014). Anthropological Filmmaking: anthropological perspectives on the production of film and video for general public audiences. Routledge.Spector, J. M., Merrill, M. D., Elen, J., & Bishop, M. J. (Eds.). (2014). Handbook of research on educational communications and technology (pp. 413-424). New York, NY: Springer.

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