Optimism about Journalism

You hear them all the time, public sneers about the journalistic future; ‘Journalism is on its way out’, ‘journalism’s dead’ and ‘citizen journalism is where the future lies’. As a media and communications student, the same opinions echo through the voices of influencers around me, with comments like ‘oh you’re doing journalism subjects, why is that?’ and ‘media and communications hey? You’re not majoring in journalism are you?’ The truth is, I’m not. In fact, those influential voices the widely discussed declining statistics of mainstream media succeeded to turn me off even contemplating it as a major of study.

In an interview with David Carr from The New York Times discussing the future of journalism, he suggests that journalism ‘back in the day’ really wasn’t that great and that the changes that we are seeing due to technology today are all a part of a natural evolution (Boston University 2014). In the same interview, Andy Lack from Bloomberg media suggests that the changes that are occurring due to the rise of digital media should be expected, enjoyed, used and discovered instead of being feared. He even goes as far to say that we are in the ‘golden age of journalism’ due to these advances (Boston University 2014).

So is the future of journalism really looking as bleak as many assume? People are now consuming news their way. We can see by looking at the platform Twitter that keeping up with such behavioural preferences if often at the core of developing successful business plans. Twitter was designed for individuals to send out tweets in a one-way form. However, its users wanted more. They wanted to talk, they wanted to reply to other tweeters and they began using the @ handle to direct their conversation. Twitter incorporated this concept of two-way communication using the @ handle into the very core of its offering and, as a result, it is now one of the most successful social media sites on the planet.

Tom Rosenstiel, Director of the American Press Institute, in a recent TED Talk spoke of new media and user-generated content challenges when stating that ‘what disrupted us will now begin to save us’ (TEDx 2013). He suggests that the notion that people are turning away from the news is simply not true, even though statistics around the decline of traditional media suggest this. News is on demand, but the audiences are now simply online and consuming news very differently.

The journalism landscape is evolving, just as it has done in the past. If journalists can offer news to audiences how they want it, where they want it and when they want it, then success is undoubtedly warranted. People place value in reliable information and trustworthy sources. In the vast sea of information available, if audiences were offered news ‘their way’ from both a novice writer and a respected journalist, then it would be almost certainly assumed that they would choose the journalist. It’s all about keeping up and I believe that we are going to begin to see the most adaptive media corporations begin to prosper once again.

References:

Boston University 2014, NYT’s David Carr on the Future of Journalism, online video, 6 March, Boston University, viewed 17 March 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPlazqH0TdA

TEDx Talks 2013, The Future of Journalism: Tom Rosenstiel at TEDxAtlanta, online video, 28 May, TEDx, viewed 17 March 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RuBE_dP900Y

#Selfie Obsessed or Self-expressed?

A little over 40 years ago, a small indigenous community of Papua New Guinea had their photographs taken and shown to them in Polaroid form. These people struggled to interpret them at first, but as they began to recognise themselves, their stomachs trembled and their faces filled with fear, as the “terror of self-awareness” set in (Wesch 2009).

Today, in a stark contrast, we exist in a world filled with self-portraits and generations obsessed by them. The selfie is taking over and it’s safe to say that the terror of self-awareness has undoubtedly diminished. Many suggest that the reason we see these mirror shots, pouting teens and sexually suggestive poses is because they’re showing us how much they love themselves and they want us to hit the “like” button to reinforce this claim (Nelson 2013). The explosion of these photographs is seen as a token of our unusually narcissistic society (Saltz 2014) and it seems so simple to write these selfie-posters off as proud and self-absorbed.

click for image source - Goodger, L 2013, Instagram profile

One of my friends is ‘that girl’. You know the one, she lives for the prospect of showcasing her latest duckface (with the #newlipstick) and sees every mildly exciting event as an opportunity to check in to Instagram. She’s got a reputation for it and has undoubtedly been unfollowed and unfriended many a times for the repetitive clogging of news feeds. It would be simple to label her vain and self-obsessed, however she actually exhibits the lowest self-esteem out of anyone I know. So is the selfie a little more complex than what many first assume?

Every reasoning behind self-documentation is independent of its own creator. Indeed, many post a selfie for validation, however, it seems wrong to typify every self-photographer with the same motivation and intent. What about a selfie taken in protest or a selfie taken to bring a smile to the face of others?

Selfies are the ultimate self-expression and since when did we become a world to hate upon self-expression, rather than embrace it? Like it or not, the selfie is shaping society as we know it and it’s here to stay. As far as I’m concerned, take advantage of that front facing camera and #self-express your little hearts out.

References:

Nelson, O 2013, Dark undercurrents of teenage girls’ selfies’, The Age, 11 July, viewed 22 March.

Saltz, J 2014, ‘Art at Arm’s Length: A History of the Selfie’, Vulture, 27 January, viewed 22 March.

Wesch, M 2009, ‘YouTube and You: Experiences of Self-Awareness in the Context Collapse of the Recording Webcam’, EME, vol.8, no2, pp19-93.