I love convergence! How can I not, I mean, convergence is bringing so many new and exciting opportunities to the world. According to Henry Jenkins, convergence changes the use of technology, influences our cultural and global interactions and understandings, shapes new ways for industries and potential economies and even changes the way we act socially! Convergence enhances hybridity and globalization, and a participatory culture which looks like it can be the closest we have ever been to democracy.
It sounds very promising. But is it all good? There are many issues one could choose to discuss for this question, and today I have chosen to write about social convergence and citizen journalism. At this very moment I am writing a post in my very own blog, the blog is public and there are no filters or code of ethics which controls what I choose to publicize. If I have something to add to the news today, I can, and if someone wants to read it, they can. Social convergence is making multitasking very easy and gives us the opportunity to get information and news from several places almost at the same time.
Back in the days Walter Cronkite used to finish his news with his own signature-line: “That’s the way it is”. Being a highly trusted broadcast-journalist this was his way of telling his audience that “this is what the news is today”, and it probably was. But as time has gone by, I believe that we have been met with several incidents that have made us not trust mainstream media as much as before. Politicians being corrupt, ownership of media giving us unbalanced and biased packages of news, I think these things made us embrace social convergence even more. Instead of putting our trust in mainstream media, we now put our trust in collective intelligence.
The negative side of us being able to produce news and share it to the public without being actual journalists is of course that there appears a lot of information on the web which are not true; it is hard to filter what is correct and what is not. There are no code of ethics, like journalists strive to write by and I believe that we need this code of ethic. Henry Jenkins talks about “civic media” instead of “citizen journalism”. He says:
“Civic media, as I use the term, refers to any use of any medium which fosters or enhances civic engagement. I intend this definition to be as broad and inclusive as possible. Civic media includes but extends well beyond the concept of citizen journalism which is so much in fashion at the moment.”
The use of any medium which fosters civic engagement. That means us, as well as mainstream media, and talk-shows, and TV-shows, and politicians and everything that spreads information. Instead of “being at war” with mainstream media, thinking that it controls all information, we should seeze the opportunity and cooperate. Citizen journalism might give us an opportunity to express ourselves, but what are the chances for us reaching a world-wide audience? Cooperation might lobby our stories more than we can do ourselves. Marcus O’Donnell, subject coordinator of journalism at the University of Wollongong, suggested that having news being told to us, as well as being given a space to participate, might be as democratic as it can be. I would have to say that I agree.
O’Donnell, M 2012, Citizen Journalism, audio recording of lecture, BCM112 Convergent Media Practices, University of Wollongong, delivered 30 April.