Convergence Culture and Citizen Journalism

19Nov11

One of the trends mentioned in the Chapter 8 of Media Work is convergence culture, something we have already discussed at length earlier in the semester. The Occupy Wall Street protests have shed some light on the role the consumer plays in the creation of media content and in this case, news reporting with many believing that social networks such as Twitter are replacing traditional news wire services such as the Associated Press. Deuze (2007) writes, “Organizations brace themselves for intra- and interinstitutional collaborations and cross-media production, while at the same time cautiously courting the consumer in her role as co-producer of commercially viable and creatively inspiring content and connectivity,” (p. 235-6).

Negotiating the role of instant communication via consumers or even staff members is seemingly difficult as noted by this brief article posted by NYMag reporting an recent memo sent out by AP reminding staff members of their social media rules: “The official rules note, ‘Don’t break news that we haven’t published, no matter the format.’” It continues, “Instead of getting ‘caught in the moment,’ the AP’s freewheeling tweeters are urged in the e-mail to run ‘sensitive official AP business’ through editors and corporate communications. The AP’s social media guidelines were recently updated to insist, ‘Retweets, like tweets, should not be written in a way that looks like you’re expressing a personal opinion on the issues of the day.’” It’s interesting to see a traditional media organization like the Associated Press expressing the difficulties its own employees have at tweeting news prior to the company actually sending it out via an official newswire.

This intersection of the traditional media worker and citizen journalist is interesting, sparking a debate over who should be considered (or potentially licensed) as a journalist in an article on Businessweek. The author notes, “Mitchell describes how one college student created a summary of the event that got tens of thousands of views in a matter of hours and was embedded by the Washington Post. Does that make him a journalist? Of course it does—in exactly the same way that Pakistani programmer Sohaib Athar became a journalist by live-tweeting the raid on Osama bin Laden, something NPR digital editor Andy Carvin described as a ‘random act of journalism.’”

-Chris G

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