The coming of the digital age has seen a dramatic shift in our cultural values. The emergence of user-friendly technologies and the power we have as a participatory culture, has seen more and more users varying how they view and share relevant information.
In the words of Jack White (former lead singer of The White Stripes) ‘Everyone’s got a story to tell’.
This statement defines the current state of the global media landscape.
Given half a chance, there is a narrative in all of us. You only need to look at the success of Facebook and Twitter to understand the supremacy of user generated content and it’s ability to shape and determine the minds of users worldwide. Social networking and the sharing of information have become apart of our lifestyle. We now live a society that values social connectivity and public participation and no longer looks to mainstream media to form the basis of our opinions.
Have decades of corrupt media ownership, unbalanced and biased reporting taken its toll on the people of the world? Does this spell the death of the professional journalist? No. As much as we all like to use our collective intelligence on issues and broadcast them through civic media, the fact is that we receive that story to report about through mainstream channels. Ellen De Generis (The Ellen Show) doesn’t create news; she simply uses her power as a highly respected comedian to relate the issue back to her audience.
We are so busy in today’s society that we only want to view and discuss events that are relevant to our own lives. We make choices to view and read the material that will only impact us and forget about the rest. As much as many would like to consider Ellen a professional journalist, she is a prime example of the power of civic media. She is professional comedian broadcasting issues and events that have been discovered by mainstream media, which are current and relevant to her audience. It is her influence in forming opinions that makes her such a powerful figure in civic journalism.
It is this notion of influence that has many professional journalists divided over civic journalism. Without gatekeepers, it is impossible to adhere to code of ethics. Without a code of ethics, we are saturated with miss-information, which ultimately influences our opinions on important matters.
Having been born into a generation that still values the nightly news, it is now up to both professional and civic journalists to find a way to co-exist as neither looks as though they will be defeated. If anything, professional journalists must work harder to return the integrity lost back to their profession. We will always have news told to us. The difference is convergent media gives us a democratic space to practice and participate.