Posts Tagged ‘Citizen journalism’

Someone once made me aware that Bosnian refugees that came to Australia (1992-1995) were received with open arms and true compassion. This is not the case for refugees coming today from e.g. Afghanistan, Burma, Iraq or Bhutan and I cannot help but speculate in the reason for this. The only thought I can come up with is “cultural differences”, or even better “expected cultural differences”. I am not going to elaborate on that, but perhaps there are some countries that appears more similar to us than others and that we find it less threatening to invite them to our own countries. I write “expected cultural differences” because most of the time refugees come from countries far away and we do not know much about them. The little we know often stem from the media and therefore it can be said that we are dependent on the media for information about refugees.

ABC’s “Media Watch” revealed in an episode how Seven’s “Today Tonight” depicted a very uninformative, untrue, wrong and deceitful portrayal of refugees in Australia. Although everyone is not watching Today Tonight it shows that mainstream media has the power to influence our perception of refugees with lies, and this strengthens the argument that we need a more diasporic media. Alongside the mainstream media there need to be a more ‘sustainable media capital that allows for the possibility for self-representation’ (Salazar 2012).

Diasporic media can help ‘socialize migrant communities into their new environments’ and teach the host country about their cultures, background and stories in a less intimidating way (Khorana 2014) – and without the lies. It gives immigrants and refugees a chance to create their own self-image and to represent their identities without signs and codes imposed by others (Rodrigues 2001 in Salazar 2012).

Reference:

Khorana, S 2014, ‘Diasporic Media’, Lecture, BCM310, University of Wollongong, 19 May.

Rodrigues, C 2001 ‘Fissures in the Mediascape: An International Study of Citizens’ in Salazar, JF 2012, ‘Digital stories and emerging citizens’ media practices by migrant youth in Western Sydney’, Journal of Community, Citizen’s & Third Sector Media & Communication, no. 7, pp.65-84, http://web.b.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/ehost/detail?sid=29db6760-d6fc-4a72-9d83-4476b8796ecb%40sessionmgr114&vid=1&hid=113&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=ufh&AN=79551905

Salazar, J.F 2012, ‘Digital stories and emerging citizens’ media practices by migrant youth in Western Sydney’, Journal of Community, Citizen’s & Third Sector Media & Communication, no. 7, pp.65-84, http://web.b.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/ehost/detail?sid=29db6760-d6fc-4a72-9d83-4476b8796ecb%40sessionmgr114&vid=1&hid=113&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=ufh&AN=79551905

Advertisements

Is there a future for journalism? Are the declining advertising revenues and the declining readership (in particular for print) a glance at the slow death of our once dedicated 4th estate?

Part of the problem for present journalism is in the sentence above; “our once dedicated 4th estate”. Where did the dedication and persistency go? What happened to investigative journalism?  Our somewhat trustworthy public sphere? I feel that all the points here mentioned have been washed away in a digital mix of instancy, citizen-journalism, and personal opinions.

After smartphones and social media flourished it seems like journalists and the creative newsrooms found it too hard to follow and just gave up on their leading role as news reporters. Instead of coming up with a new innovative strategy of how to shape their business-model into one that suits the digital age, they sat back watching everyone else take over. If this attitude continues, there is no doubt that they will end up where book-shops, video-shops and photo-shops are today.

I am all for digital technology and the public’s right to take part in the news, but I still believe that some part of traditional journalism is needed for at least two reasons; ethics and quality control.

Tailoring of news on the basis of advertisement is annoying, but is it better with Google’s algorithms? Digital media is sorting the news to us in accordance with what we have previously shown an interest in, not according to what we ought to know and hear about. News should not only be about interests, but also about what is important for us to know.

Citizen journalism may be instant, but in regards to quality, how can we trust that what some citizen wrote from somewhere in the world is true? How can we know what is fictional, actual or manipulated? Journalists must follow certain codes of conduct which at least strengthen the trustworthiness of their news. Actually, their codes of conduct also enforce them to think ethical, a point that Pavlik (2013) suggests to be one principle necessary to include when considering innovative and sustainable journalism. How are witnesses protected by citizen journalists? “I promise not to provide a picture of you..Cross my heart”. News content comes in all shapes; comment-threads, geographically tagged photos, opinion pieces, videos and more, we need a code of conduct to ensure “strong and transparent privacy policies” (Pavlik 2013). Only traditional journalism can provide this (so far).

The problem is that we need journalism to pick up its backpack and take on the journey into the future of journalism. Be innovative, think outside the box and take the lead as reporters once again. Technology, the Internet and social media has so much to offer and for journalism there is much to be discovered.

The public sphere used to be defined as a place (often a coffee-shop) for men to sit down and rationally discuss the daily issues of concern; a place where each man would be heard and taken into account. This is a picture of democracy as it once was. But as time has passed our view of the world and our interpretation of what is common sense has changed too. Back then, men where the only thinkable characters to participate in politics, a woman with an opinion were considered ‘unladylike’ and unheard-off.

Today we find ourselves in an era where politics is everywhere and everyone is politics. We have passed the days when men where the only participants and we are now about to pass the days when the traditional press are the only ones with a legitimate right to voice and decide ‘what was the news today’. Propaganda (politicians) and selective news (traditional journalists) are being accompanied with an abundance of information coming from many different public spheres and it changes the ecosystem of the media. The 4th estate is not our one public sphere. There is a public sphere in reality shows, the school-yard, in the hospital’s waiting-room, online and everywhere our day-to-day concerns take place. These concerns are the politics of the public.

While journalists report their views of events, popular culture and now also the public produce content based on their interpretation of these events, and as Berkowitz says, all these ‘opinion’ mix and together they influence the audiences mind and play a role in shaping how the world works (2009).

Many would suggest that this enhances democracy as the public’s opinion becomes more evident, but when public opinion is infused by both traditional journalism and popular culture, we struggle to separate them. Teneboim-Weinblatt (2009) says that the countless different media-texts that we are exposed to are being utilized in various ways to “construct political meaning and identities” and this builds a new challenge in our media-ecosystem.

References:

Berkowitz, D 2009, ‘Journalism in the broader mediascape’, Journalism, vol. 10, no. 290, pp.290-292.

Teneboim-Weinblatt, K 2009, ‘”Where Is Jack Bauer When You Need Him?” The Uses of Television Drama in Mediated Political Discourse’, Political Communication, vol. 26, no. 4, pp.367-387.

Today we are in the middle a digital revolution, a technological shift which threatens the survival of many industries. In my latest post I have been discussing the possibilities to how industries can join the new online market and how they might adapt to a technological age. As of today many industries, especially the media industries seem to refuse to let go of their old business models. Personally I find myself thinking a bit like a technological determinist, we have to accept cultural and social changes which comes with new technologies, it makes no sense to resist. We have always invented new things that have changed our way of behavior and communication, very often to the better, so why not this time?

Power and control; probably the key words to why this revolution is met with so much resistance. Politics and news have walked hand-in-hand for a very long time, and both politicians and media owners have become very powerful through such cooperation. The Internet builds a foundation for a true democratic society, good for the consumer, but bad for authorities.

But let us look at the possibilities. I am not going to focus on the possibilities to maintain control, but the possibility to maintain business and revenue. The problem with industrial media is that it has always been centralized. The collection, production and distribution of news were built on a one-to-many model which gave these industries advantages through gatekeeping. They were able to filter and decide what was the news of the day, they had the power to judge what was important and what we were supposed to think. This screams propaganda, doesn’t it?

Today we are citizen journalists. We also decide what is the news of the day, judge what is important and influence what people should think. The Internet decentralized the news-market; it took the control out of the authorities’ hands. For democracy, this is a victory, but I still think that we need these media industries. We need them for quality control and distribution.

Many people can write a very convincing and important blog about a certain issue, but most people do not have the resources to check the accuracy of this information, I am sure many citizen journalists do, but to be honest, most of us do not. Most of us write and publish, without having researched the facts and background of the content.

With platforms like Twitter information can be aggregated into topics. When I post this blog to Twitter, no one will probably notice it, but if I use the hashtag #gatewatchers, it is a very different matter; my blog will end up in a very interesting search, which suddenly enhances the value of my blog-post.

What media-industries could do is to change their way of finding information. Instead of being told by editors: “Today we should be focusing on the U.S election”, journalists could use these aggregation-platforms to search for interesting and important news. Not only will we be a part of what the news is, but originally the news would be written by citizen journalists and the content would be made out of our opinions, not the editors. The role of the media industries would be quality control, to improve an already good piece of journalism as well as to distribute it to make sure it gets attention from the right people.

At least I would find the news much more trustworthy in the way that I know it is not just a piece of propaganda, it is something someone out there really cares about. In this way, I can see a very much improved public sphere.