How would you seek out news on this fine Tuesday morning? Perhaps you skim through the daily newspaper whilst sipping your morning coffee, or maybe the 8AM radio news on your commute to university keeps you informed . Both are valuable and somewhat ‘credible’ sources of information. These types of journalism are referred to as monologic media, broadcasting from one to many. They provide you with access to information, but they do so passively. It is because of this that these forms of media are dwindling. They don’t allow us to voice our opinions, and after all, everybody has the desire to be heard.
The internet has seen the rise of dialogic forms of media, from many to many, and the internet is just that: dialogic by design. It creates something that monologic media doesn’t, the ability for us all to be heard. This has seen the rise of the citizen journalist whereby members of the public actively process, collect, report, analyse and disseminate news and information. Anybody with internet access can broadcast a message via platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and personal blogs. Consumers have transformed from passively listening to actively communicating.
Janey Gordon (2007) explores the influences of new media in the reporting of three critical situations, one of these situations being the London Bombings of 2005. Gordon states that “those involved or nearby were already giving dynamic accounts from their mobile phones” and that the media and press “used images taken on mobile phones to supplement – and in their terms ‘enhance’ – their coverage of the event” (p. 314). Without citizen journalism, such in-depth accounts of the London Bombings would have been delivered much slower to the public, and information available would have been purely that provided by the police.
Citizen journalism now plays a vital role in the public sphere and the way in which we come across sources of news and information has changed rapidly. The downside to this new era of journalism is that content on the internet passes though weak or non-existent gate-keepers. We are faced with a dilemma – how do we establish the credibility of sources of information in this day and age?
How would you react if a friend tweeted that a tsunami was heading for the east coast of Australia? Would you instantaneously grab your belongings and run for the hills? My guess is probably not. We are given the freedom to participate in the online world and we therefore enlist to understanding that not everything we stumble upon on the internet should be taken at face value.
Gordon, J (2007), ‘The Mobile Phone and the Public Sphere: Mobile Phone Usage in Three Critical Situations’, Convergence, vol.13, no.2, pp307-319