BY: AISHA ILYAD
Explorations in today’s modern world, both in terms of quality and quantity is different – and preferable – than any other era in history. One example is the formation of the virtual world in parallel with the physical world, which itself has caused considerable changes in society, culture, economy and politics. The increasing expansion of the internet is the initiator of changes in the overall structure of society.
Features like interactivity, having no limitations in regards to time and place, existing above civil law, and the possibilities that come with multimedia means that the internet beats other rivals in terms of social competition.
One of the areas that has been widely affected by communication technologies in recent years is literature and culture. As social media becomes more and more popular, journalists, writers and artists have been keen to capitalize on their potential to build and maintain audiences. However, little is known about the extent to which these efforts may have adverse implications.
But the increasing usage of the internet and social media for informing and micro blogging has given rise to heated discussions over how social networking sites has affected the traditional norms of literature and information.
One hypothesis is that there has always been a relationship of impact and impression between writers, journalists and artists with their audiences through their works, and this process hasn’t been disrupted by social networking sites. It is even believed that social sites have in fact increased the amount of impact from the creator and appreciation from audiences.
One development from social media is the rise in Citizen Journalism, which allows just about anyone to grab their mobile phones, snap a picture, post it on social sites and become a “journalist.”
But according to Richard Sambrook, the director of the BBC Global News Division, Information is not journalism. You get a lot of things, when you open up Twitter in the morning, but not journalism. Journalism needs discipline, analysis, explanation and context and therefore it is still a profession.
Journalists used to be called the gatekeepers of the public sphere, but the public sphere no longer has walls or gates. There are two billion internet users in the world. Each one of them can publish a message without convincing a gatekeeping journalist of its importance. For example, professional journalists post and tweet in their reports a breaking news story. Citizen journalists who witness an incident produce reports, which are often lifted into mainstream publicity by professional journalists as free-of-charge material. But is it safe for regular citizens to voluntarily report every incident and anywhere?
According to research by University of Kent, citizen journalists play a role in the agenda-setting function of the news media, which can influence public opinion of security-related issues; meanwhile at the same time another report from ifla.org states that more and more citizen journalists and whistleblowers are killed or imprisoned because of their work. Sometimes their security has been compromised because of their uncompensated collaboration with professional journalists.
Most of the times citizen journalism adds fuel to the fire and can make a bad condition worse, especially in war torn countries where giving additional or highly sensitive information can lead to greater chaos.
By the end of the first decade of the new millennium it was clear that the internet was killing newspapers. An increasing number of readers had decided that they preferred to read their news online, and advertisers were following them. In the meantime the amount of journalism globally produced by non-professional journalists has increased dramatically. Hundreds of millions of people suddenly had affordable, reliable access to the internet. Mobile technology made that access ubiquitous. Since the usage of social networking sites has become an integral part of the news consumption experience in today’s world, it has become important to thoroughly study news organizations’ social media use. Despite the rise of amateur news cultures and the increasing amount of copyright infringements, journalism and writing continue to exist as professions – but as one that is going through a turbulent identity struggle.