BCM310: Participatory Journalism…but what is it?

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With the rise of convergent media, the future of journalism is looking more uncertain than ever before. Media convergence has created new opportunities for public involvement, new forms of content delivery as well as new competition for mainstream journalism. This trend marks a shift from passive media consumers to a ‘prosumer’ culture and a blurring of boundaries between citizens and professional journalists (O’Donnell, 2014).  This phenomenon is known as participatory journalism, but what does that mean for the future of journalism?

Domingo et al note that traditionally journalism is affixed to the institution of media and is “based upon the production of news by the dedicated paid labour, the journalists” (2008, p. 326). This notion is practically obsolete with consumers producing more media content and contributing to news sources like never before. Additionally, the role of the ‘gate keeper’ is being challenged. The phrase ‘gate keeper’ depicts the main role of traditional journalists, that is, to determine what information and how much of it the public should be privy to (Domingo et al, 2008). Though, this too, is becoming obsolete. New technologies and social media are allowing for increased content production and public access to a “potentially global audience” at any time (Domingo et al, 2008). This means that the public is tightening their grip on what news is discussed and how much attention it will get. Now when an important world event materialises, we switch onto social media and online media forums to access news sources and join in the conversation.

In many cases, traditional and new media have a symbiotic relationship in which they inform and play off one another. Additionally, professional and citizen journalists collaborate to produce content (Redefiningjournalism, 2011). Despite this move towards participatory journalism globally, mainstream media is still of the utmost importance as it is an “essential tool for reaching a domestic and global audience” (Simon quoted in Crouch, 2012). In other words, you can’t have one without the other.

 

References:

Crouch, D 2012, ‘Arab media make most of citizen journalism’, FT.com, 21 February

Domingo, D, Quandt, T, Heinonen, A, Paulussen, S, Singer, JB & Vujnovic, M 2008, ‘Participatory Journalism Practices in the Media and Beyond’, Journalism Practice, Vol. 2, Iss. 3, pp. 326-342

O’Donnell, M 2014, ‘The future of journalism’, Lecture, BCM310, University of Wollongong, viewed 31 March 2014

Redefiningjournalism 2011, ‘Participatory Journalism: what do you think it means?’, Redefining Journalism’s Blog, weblog post, 2 February, viewed 5 March 2014, http://redefiningjournalism.wordpress.com/2011/02/02/participatory-journalism-what-do-you-think-that-means/

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