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Online Journalism

reflections on a changing medium

Here Comes Everybody is a book that I’ve referenced already in other blog posts. I read it about a month ago and it’s one of the most inspiring books that I’ve read so far this year.
The chapter “Everyone is a Media Outlet” describes my biggest fears and my greatest hopes about journalism. The idea that amateurs can serve as media outlets is both frightening and extremely exciting.

I think that Shirky’s discussion of professionals is very interesting. As we are seeing today, those already in the field of journalism might be at a disadvantage as they see the role of a journalist “through a lens created by other members of their profession” whereas people just entering the field have the opportunity to create a new lens through which to view it. Some traditional journalists are resisting the changes of the times as scribes resisted the changes brought about by the printing press long ago.

Shirky’s discussion of “mass amateurization” is exciting because with the increasing opportunity for everyone to produce media there will be more people determining what is newsworthy and setting the public agenda. Therefore, the news that is widely available is becoming is more of a viewpoint mosaic than several voices coming from the same viewpoint. Aggregated blog sites like The Huffington Post along with the increasing number of independent blogs on WordPress, Blogger and similar sites are good examples of this. Rather than the hashing out of arguments and critical evaluations of different viewpoints being limited to the editorial page of newspapers, amateurs are able to take to the Net, carving up their own editorial pages and speaking their minds. This is possible because, as Shirky points out, now everyone has access to a publishing platform which is free and easy to use.


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