The Future of Journalism

The line between conventional journalists and their audiences seems to be blurring. Participatory culture has added a whole new dimension to journalism and the way information circulates, challenging traditional boundaries and definitions of professional institutions. Docile journalists are attached to the time-honoured social functions within these institutions, by having the “gatekeeper of information” status and authority. The what, when and how of transmitting news to the public, has until recently always been maintained and enforced by conventional routines. Access/observation, selection/filtering, processing/editing, distribution and interpretation of content, are the five routines of communication that are no longer restricted by a gatekeeper (Domingo et. al., 2008, p326).

Audiences are now involved in the circulation of news more than ever before, purely due to the fact that we’ve been provided with the ability to do so. Hello modern technology. Major news corporations are in the midst of a power-struggle, between their traditional practices and the abundance of social networking platforms. This ubiquitous battle, in my opinion, can only mean one thing – the public WANT to be able to participate, and finally, they can. This doesn’t have to mean a great shift in control, but an opportunity to consider the varying perspectives, ideas and reflections of society. How can one decipher exactly what, when and how the public want to know something, without involving them in the process? Contemporary critics base their argument surrounding this precise notion. Journalist Risto Kunelius believes that news should be more like a conversation rather than a lecture (2001). Since the emergence of social networks, many traditional institutions have resisted complying with this participatory culture. However this is slowly changing, with corporations recognising the potential of audience interaction, they are beginning to utilise participatory methods in some ways. Stemming from the popularity of talk shows and community-engaging program formats, more and more newsrooms are incorporating social media platforms such as Twitter. Informative television programs, such as ABC’s Q&A and SBS Insight, function more like a discussion. While the information and stories remain mediated, there is still a sense of authenticity because of the conversation-like structure. Online, a majority of institutions haven’t fully utilised the tools of citizen media, however, have enabled some features within their news stories including ranking, sharing, commenting, and forum threads. While this is still restrictive to exactly what is being reported, it aims to encourage collective discussions and criticisms in a controlled environment (Domingo et. al., 2008, p334).

This video is a collaboration of television programs, events, and news desks that are using social media (Twitter) to create an ongoing relationship with viewers.

 

 

References:

Domingo, D, Quandt, T, Heinonen, A, Paulussen, S, Singer, JB & Vujnovic, M 2008, ‘PARTICIPATORY JOURNALISM PRACTICES IN THE MEDIA AND BEYOND: An international comparative study of initiatives in online newspapers’, Journalism Practice, vol. 2, no. 3, pp. 326-342.

Kunelius, R 2001, ‘Conversation: a metaphor and a method for better journalism?’, Journalism Studies, vol. 2, no. 1, pp. 31-54.

Twitter, 2011, The Best of Twitter TV, online video, 2 May, YouTube, viewed 3 April 2014 <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jc8TQppzORE>

If You Can Think of It – It’s About to Happen.

In the not-so-distant future, everyone and everything in the world will be connected to the Internet. This phenomenon is already in its early stages – and is known as the “Internet of Things” (Kevin Ashton, 2009). There are approximately 2 billion people using the Internet right now, however the Internet contains a larger number of data. Our ability to produce information has far exceeded our ability to control it. We know that the Internet has extreme potential, now it’s just a matter of developing an effective way to harness it. Technologist John Barrett states “Every major global government, and every major economic block, is investing heavily in the IoT”.

Since the emergence of the Internet, we’ve recognised a unique sense of harmony to the dimensions of life. Now, by accessing real-time data of the way systems are interacting, we can better understand global dynamics and thus make more intelligent decisions. From space, the world is visible as a neural network with cities as nodes, a literal image that we are a system of systems. We can see it, hear it, and capture it – the world has virtually developed a central nervous system, it is early days but the planet is speaking to us. Ongoing accessibility and innovations make for a very efficient society, and with the matrixing of services we will generate more resilient systems.

outer-space-internet-lights-planets-earth-europe-network-HD-WallpapersSource

The Internet of Things cannot be simply explained, so I recommend watching this lecture by Dr. John Barrett. Barrett describes the Internet as a digital cloud or universe, 4000 Exabyte’s in size (whoa). All of our lives are about to change – by merging the physical world to the Internet. We will be able to control and communicate with everything from anywhere – goods, objects, machines, appliances, buildings, vehicles, animals, plants, soil and even humans will become a part of the IoT (we kind of already are). The possibilities are only restricted by our imagination… so buckle your seat belts, hold your horses, and put down your Smartphones. Actually pick them back up, because soon you will be able to point your device at anything or anyone and learn as much as you can about it through embedded circuits. Barrett quotes, “Facebook will look like a minor event”.  So if you were concerned about privacy issues on social media… think again. One major concern regarding the IoT is the devalued notion of privacy. Google has the potential to become a real life search engine as everything will be tagged, locatable, and can give us information about itself and its surrounding environment (via RFID – Radio Frequency Identification).

Screen Shot 2013-10-25 at 1.07.05 PMSource

Another major concern is if everything in the world is connected, issues of terrorism and hacking will be magnified. The IoT will be extremely vulnerable, creating immense opportunities for the security software industry. This may seem frightening and preposterous, but it is a reality. Pre-schoolers are now learning on iPads – young children brought into this technologically dependent world will embrace the IoT effortlessly. However, I think it will take us (gen X & Y) some time to get used to.

Social Media – A Revolutionary Tool

The Arab Spring is a term expressing the revolutionary movements in 2010, which began in the Arab region. What made the Arab Spring so unique was the utilisation of social media to establish and promote uprising agendas, as these were the first collective movements in the Middle East since Internet and social media revolutions. A journal article by Richard Lindsey explores the significance of social media during the Arab Spring, allowing individuals to influence public opinion and gain international support through the global distribution of news. Lindsey assures that techniques and procedures via social media will affect future revolutionary tactics in globalised societies, however the degree to which is questionable.

Sharing mass amounts of uncensored and accurate information through social networking significantly prompted the rise in Arab Spring activists. Not only did they obtain supremacy to overthrow powerful dictatorship, but also Arab civilians were now conscious of underground communities whom they can connect with. This may have not been possible without the significant role social media played, “We use Facebook to schedule the protests… Twitter to coordinate, and YouTube to tell the world.” – Arab Spring activist from Egypt. Stories of shared grievances and hopelessness was overflowing over these networks. The use of digital storytelling through social media is what drew people into the streets to protest.

ArabSpring-Tweeter

Image source

A blog post on PolicyMic describes the use of social networks as assisting to remove the psychological barrier of fear for Arab civilians by connecting and sharing information. The consistent flow of news provided a sense of reassurance that they are not alone, and that there are others experiencing hardship, prejudice, and similar accounts of brutality. Professor of mass communications from Cairo, Hussein Amin, stated that social networks “for the first time provided activists with an opportunity to quickly disseminate information while bypassing government restrictions”. It is worthy to note that new social networking platforms were not the reason for the Arab Spring but function in serving future revolutions with regard to communication.

The Significance of Social Media

Interaction is a significant aspect of human culture. An article by Mike Laurie investigates the different ways social media has changed us. Over time many different forms of communication have evolved. From inconvenient, labour intensive technologies such as Morse code and carrier pigeons, to instantaneous connections through wireless devices. Rather than posting a letter or buying a newspaper we are now able to share, produce, and circulate endless amounts of information in simple and effective ways.

Skeptics consider social networking to be straining society with regard to social etiquette and identity. However, I would deem these to be issues within the media as a whole and not just social media. Consider a teenage girl reading a magazine – the collaboration of articles and images would produce something to the effect of: “Wear this. Wear that. Act like this around boys. If you’re thin and pretty you will be happy and popular”. In this sense, the consumer only has the option to do just that – consume. And while these same messages may be sprawled across the Internet, we are no longer lazy consumers of passive messages – we are active participants. Social media is about being connected, engaging with old friends and creating new experiences. Instead of being limited to the information in a 25-page magazine, we can now explore what feels like infinite amounts of content. Laurie describes time before the Internet to be when limitations of learning existed due to poor literacy and lack of access to books. If “knowledge is power” and you have access to continuous information distribution, your desire for knowledge is legitimately within fingertips.

iphone-and-social-media-icons

Image souce

An article By David Wallace outlines the statistics with regard to the influence social media has had beyond the notion of socialising. Employment, news, law enforcement, education, political participation, economy, music industries and marketing systems have all been prompted and enhanced through social media. A report by PEW suggested that social networks have encouraged younger generations to be more involved in political issues, a fine example of society being more interested and informed with the world around us.

Through citizen journalism comes the rise of “gatewatchers”, where user-generated content flows freely among platforms. Axel Bruns (2003) states that social networks fabricate participant communities through various understandings and interpretations. Bruns states that blogging should be recognised as a significant form of journalism. Online gatewatchers may actually compliment the mainstream journalism industry through the diversity of discussion and debate, no longer being limited by the “gatekeeper”.

The Alternate Dimension… of Attention

The most important thing in the attention economy is relevancy. An article by Alex Iskold explores the way users interact with online content, and why their attention is valuable. Iskold states that the more relevant a website’s content is, the more likely visitors are to stay on the page, thus increasing sale opportunities. But what can companies do to improve the likelihood of visitors buying their products or clicking on an advertisement? Personalisation. Sites such as Google and Facebook use personal information to filter content specific to your needs. Consumers tend to forget that their favourite search engine or social networking site are businesses (because they are free to use) – and the more information they know about you the better. Iskold claims your tailored search results and ads are typically stemmed from browsing history, online profiles etc.

pay-attentionSource

While browsing websites is technically free, you are still supplementing their value. For the currency of the online economy isn’t money, but attention. And by having the freedom to select where your attention is, your attention has worth. This is the attention economy.

“We want a world where you don’t have to ask for help or permission to write out loud.”
Clay Shirky

While online content value may be depreciating, this is what makes blogging more significant. The overflow of content indicates an innovative and progressive world, where everyone has the freedom to express themselves. If there’s so much of it this suggests that we have found a way to make global publishing effortless, and seem natural. Sounds pretty good to me.

The moon landed… on TV

Growing up, there was always a television in our home, but I never thought about it as some extraordinary piece of technology. To me it seemed a necessity, like other appliances in the house. Alas, talking to my father about his early memories of TV, made me realise that it was a big deal for families to own one in the 60s.

When television was first introduced, dad stated that when they visited their friends’ houses who had one it was really impressive “Wow they have a television we don’t have anything like that in our home”. Dad was 7 years old when his parents could finally afford to purchase one of their own. The TV was placed in their “entertaining” or “visitors” room, which was a space with some chairs. I thought it was quite bazaar when I asked, “did you and your sister fight over who sat on a particular part of the lounge?” Dad responded saying that they didn’t have a lounge, and the term “lounge room” did not even exist in their house. Everybody just sat on chairs when they wanted to watch TV, however they did fight over who got to sit the closest, as they would be in charge of the channel. Moreover, because there were only four channels they were constantly switching between, the knobs on the TV would often be damaged or broken.

Dad and his sister would be glued to the TV as soon as they got home from school, which was about 4pm, and stay there for as long as possible. I found this quite odd as me and my brother had boundaries when watching TV, however dad stated, “as long as we were quiet mum didn’t care how long we watched it for”. Dad and his sister spent the most time with the TV, stating that they watched every single show they could. The only time the family would sit down and watch something together was for the “Sunday night movie”, when classics such as The Sound of Music would air.

Apart from not being allowed to eat in the TV room, there were no other codes of behaviour that existed. I found this interesting, as today when observing younger children in their family home the general consensus is “Stop watching that idiot box and go outside and play”. However in the 60s dad explained that in his family, “The TV was brand new and was to be enjoyed. Nobody bullied us from the television. It was like a big social network – because all the kids at school would talk about all the shows that were on the night before”. It was remarkable that dad had compared watching TV when he was younger to social networking as we know it now. I also found it ironic hearing him say that “nobody bullied us from the television” in contrast to the abundance of cyber bullying today.

With regard to a particular event on TV, the first man on the moon seemed to be dad’s fondest memory. Everybody in his primary school was pulled out of class to see Neil Armstrong take his first steps on the moon. Dad described it as a momentous occasion particularly because the whole school had stopped everything just to watch it on TV. I couldn’t imagine being in school when I was young and going to the hall just to watch something on television. The only time class was disrupted for us was emergencies. But I guess back then the first man on the moon would have been somewhat considered an emergency, being an iconic moment for mankind.

My dad stated one of the things that changed markedly is that back in his era; the TV was the only contact they had with the outside world, and without it they did not know what was happening globally. “It was our way to connect to the rest of humanity, my parents loved the documentaries because they could see parts of the world they have never seen. It was a very fascinating experience”. Furthermore, dad stated that in his generation you tended to believe what you saw on the television as the truth, as it felt like it had more influence and credibility. Now people are growing wise to the fact that it’s just entertainment, whereas before people gave it more value. “Today, we are more educated and figured out that a lot of things on TV are sensationalised to sell airtime and commercials. We are more ‘consumer aware’ than we used to be.”

The Network Society

The Internet has altered the way we work, socialise, create and share information. This transformation of social networking does not get the recognition it deserves. There’s been this massive transition in our lives, transitioning to a digital culture and economy.

In a 2011 report, Mckinsey Global Institute stated that in the past 5 years, the Internet accounted for 21 per cent of the GDP growth in mature economies. This technological revolution has assisted large enterprises and national economies, individual consumers and upstart entrepreneurs. Facebook and other social media sites have been some of the utmost beneficiaries from the powerful influence of the Internet – businesses can now interact with their consumers on a personal level. From a few thousand students accessing Facebook to over 1 billion global users today, Manyika and Roxburgh from the Mckinsey Global Institute stated that ‘If Internet were a sector, it would have a greater weight in GDP than agriculture or utilities’. The development and evolution of the Internet has been described as a ‘healthy Internet ecosystem’, boosting infrastructure, accessibility, and a competitive environment. This prompts innovators and entrepreneurs to flourish, nurturing human capital and in turn maximizing the ongoing affect of the Internet on prosperity and economic growth.

The vast opportunities we are provided with are being embraced and embedded into our lifestyle and culture, and it is truly amazing to be a part of it. We create, define and expand this online ecosystem at an astonishing rate. Communication is the foundation of our society, culture, humanity and identities.

‘Consisting of transactions, relationships and thought itself, arrayed like a standing wave in the web of our communications. Ours is a world that is both everywhere and nowhere, but it is not where bodies live… We are creating a world that all may enter without privilege or prejudice accorded by race, economic power, military force, or station of birth…We are creating a world where anyone, anywhere may express his or her beliefs, no matter how singular, without fear of being coerced into silence or conformity’ – John Perry Barlow

I loved one of this week’s readings, ‘A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace’. Above are my favourite excerpts, which outline the online world we are (or choose to be) a part of. I found it interesting when he says (repeatedly) about our physical bodies not living in cyberspace. I loved how he separated an individual’s physical characteristics with cyberspace, presented in this sense that you are entering a utopian world.

References:

Barlow, JP 1996, A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, Davos Switzerland, viewed 18/08/2013,
<https://projects.eff.org/~barlow/Declaration-Final.html

Dyson, E, Gilder, G, Keyworth, G & Toffler, A 1994, Cyberspace and the American Dream: A Magna Carta for the Knowledge Age, The Progress & Freedom Foundation, viewed 18/08/2013,
<http://www.pff.org/issues-pubs/futureinsights/fi1.2magnacarta.html

Kelly, K 1999, New Rules for the New Economy, Kevin Kelly, viewed 18/08/2013,
< http://www.kk.org/newrules/newrules-intro.html

Manrika, J & Roxburgh, C 2011, The great transformer: The impact of the Internet on economic growth and prosperity, Mckinsey Global Institute, viewed 18/08/2013, <http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/high_tech_telecoms_internet/the_great_transformer

Citizen Journalism

Media convergence has challenged the way journalism has been operating over the past few generations. Citizen journalism is when participants of information play an active role by gathering, analysing and distributing news. This is now integrated into our culture as society is changing the way we receive information by transferring from print media to digital media. Why? Because it’s convenient. Instant. Free. The best part about it all is – you can interact. We as consumers are becoming the producers through blogging, vlogging, and even social networking. Media platforms (i.e. YouTube, Tumblr, Twitter, WordPress, SoundCloud, Vimeo) allow us to contribute to collective intelligence in the comfort of our own homes, if desired.

I like to receive my news online because it’s usually from people which I know personally. There is no thorough editing process for the information presented to the public. One click and boom. It’s there, online for EVERYONE to see, at any time. I feel information online can be more reliable because you can discover more about an issue by commenting on the source, and there is usually multiple web pages where the story will overlap, OR alternatively you may know the source personally. For example there was a car crash near my house a few months ago. Because many of my Facebook friends live in my area, or pass through here on a daily basis, I knew about this crash within minutes after it had occurred, before I had even gotten out of bed that morning, and before any news station journalist had written or even knew about it. I read details about the car and passengers on various status updates from people who had driven past, or knew the people in the accident. This is where citizen journalism differs from traditional journalists – reading about incidents online from locals you somehow have a connection to – whether it’s someone you knew from school, a colleague, a friend, a friend of a friend… you get my drift. Traditional journalists are struggling to keep up, and I am interested to see what citizen journalism can do in the future.

BCM112 – Media Platform/Emerging Technology

Choosing my media platform was not a simple process… there’s so much out there. Some were too broad, too specific, too bizarre and some I’d never heard of. I finally decided to choose something I knew about already which is important to me, that I have found a dependence on each and every day – The iPhone (smartphone).

The iPhone was released by Apple in June 2007 and since then has completely altered the way we communicate. The iPhone is a significant product assisting the stimulation of media convergence among users through it’s applications you can install.

Media convergence is the technological shift between different media platforms from analogue to digital. Technological evolution now allows us to stream videos online, instead of on our television. We can read our favourite stories on a hand-held device instead of lugging around bulky novels and textbooks. Things that used to be accessed through an analogue process (eg. purchasing a newspaper) are now being done digitally.

Convergence can be classified as various forms of media combined into one platform. E.g. the iPhone contains the internet which allows you to use different applications to access things such as radio, gaming, ebooks, GPS etc as well as standard mobile functions i.e texting, calling and plenty more.

Information through different media platforms are consistently changing to adjust to the demands of technology. This alters the way we create, consume, learn and interact with each other more than ever.

Considering this, I felt that the iPhone would be  a great device to study as it not only caters for the technological convergence but it is one of the most popular products worldwide. I am unsure if what my particular focus will be on – perhaps the convenience of social networking the iPhone provides (as that is what I use it for most) which I think is it’s most appealing feature.