The role of professional journalists has been an essential part in the traditional news industry to establish and maintain relationships within society in reporting raw and current stories. Journalism is more complex than dealing with controversial issues pertaining politics, war, economics and crime whether local or international. It involves a system of gathering pertinent facts and information that is to be included in an article, which goes through layers of editorial structure. However, with the traditional news values evolving overtime paralleled with the emergence of of participatory culture in journalism, has it actually changed the canvas for professional journalists?
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The current society uses and depended on the Internet for a mass of various information. Having an Internet connection isn’t merely for extracting information. While most would think that the general public would casually surf the Internet for trivial matters; rather a vast majority are uploading and exchanging knowledge virtually with anyone across the world. The various platforms used mainly social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube and so forth - while each has a unique feature, they all have a similar feature where users are able to connect with the content creator or other users publicly via the comment section. The engagement amongst the community goes to show that anyone can virtually obtain information and exchange their thoughts virtually through the click of a button.
A Pew Internet and American Life study performed March 12 to May 20, 2003 recently studied user contributions to Internet content. The polling project, The Material People Contribute to the Online World is one of the few detailed studies on the phenomenon of Internet users involved in content creation. Its study of Web sites, web cams, web logs, file sharing and newsgroup participation, found that 44% of adult American Internet users (roughly 53 million people) had contributed content online. This is a significant shift as individual users are becoming content creators, using text, pictures and even videos. For web logs, the study found 2% to 7% of Internet users published one, and only 10% of those update their web logs daily. These numbers are particular to American Internet users, as it is likely the numbers on a worldwide scale are lower (Lih, 2004).
The convenience has not only allow public users to engage in the online realm, traditional media outlets - broadcasters and publication companies - have sought the advantage of the Internet as well. According to a recent Oxford research statistics,
“47% still say they go directly to the websites of broadcasters or newspapers for their news, but online, people increasingly find news via the various search (20%) and social media (25%) services offered by US-based platform companies like Google and Facebook.”
Based on the extract above, we could agree that in this day and age that the statistics on the transition towards an online medium is comparably solid than previous years. While the stigma that ‘the traditional media is dying’ is undeniable, some school of thought would say that traditional media evolved into new media. That said, as much as society prefer the usage of digital platforms to acquire news, a large number would log on to the official websites of the ‘considerably dinosaurs’ of reputable news broadcasters and publications.
These traditional new outlets conform with the current trend of the digital age. The redefined term of contemporary journalism means journalists must be tech-savvy in order to survive in the industry. Nowadays, it is unnecessary for employers to recruit local journalists. Instead, they are able to source journalists around the world for a targeted news campaign that is happening on site, on the go. As for user generated content, it means these new publication outlets are able to outsource viral content that’s happening without being physically on site by engaging with the content creator through email or direct messaging (DM) via the respective social media platform. The development of this systems suggests that it works both ways for both parties by addressing and communicating said news matter which is a win-win situation.
Whether Internet users are on the official news platforms or respective social media sites, laying the groundwork of a journalist created content or user generated content are of similar nature. The commodity where the community is offered is relatively a bump from a traditional platform to an interactive platform in accessing, contributing, and expressing newsworthy affairs. It allows both parties to be proactive in securing the right information with the capability to publish said news within the timeframe. When The Guardian, a reputable UK based publication launched a citizen journalism platform called GuardianWitness, it is a fair example of user-generated content platform where it welcomes netizens to jump on the bandwagon. Journalists recruited by The Guardian are given the news output support through the creation this particular platform. Netizens are able to ping The Guardian on any “live news tie-ins” or urge them on topics of various range. (Macmillan, 2013). By doing so, the creation of citizen journalism is in actual fact, playing a vital role in reporting news.
Facts are defined as extracting information and quotes from official sources in traditional journalism. The traditional way of gathering information through on the ground research is by obtain interviews with the locals and police. This has been the main system in most newsworthy content. While it may seem that this system is on the move, we cannot deny the fact that as social media platforms continue to thrive, it is notably beginning to be acceptable to obtain the variety of information through official and unofficial sources (Hermida, 2010). Nevertheless, we are in the digital renaissance where there is a plethora of information to seek out on the Internet. Following the birth of Twitter, BBC’s World Have Your Say back in 2006 pioneered a technique where a social media site of this sort eases the burden for reporters to find eyewitness and commentators on events around the world (Giuliani, 2016).
The world is at your fingertip thanks to the abundance of informational sites. It allows the public to exchange their views and voice out their thoughts with others regardless of their time zone. From a miniscule local hit to a sensational international agenda, it is the availability of the collection of data cache that floats on the online realm. Gone are the days where the traditional means of conducting time consuming research in libraries and public records. Professional journalists are now able to source their reports and findings with the help of such open online space. The relevancy of this is that they are also able to explore and grasp brand new commodities on the go. As a matter of fact, progress can be made thanks to the Internet; particularly via the easy communication gateway among journalists and their site editors. As long as the engagement is there the community is up to speed all throughout the process.
The ever growing, fast paced interconnected networks that is available globally allows the development and innovative tools to convey news conveniently and efficiently. With the profusion of new platforms everyday, it is safe to say that the usage of the Internet gateway is inevitable yet affordable in any parts of the sphere. With all sorts of informations and tactics used to channel them, these platforms play a vital role in shaping the society’s perception and singularity towards a certain bulletin. In order for the publication and broadcast conglomerates to push their own interests or to draw the attention away from the news that may prove to disadvantage them, the newspapers have created "a news media that concentrates on attracting audiences" through stories about "sex, scandal and Hollywood" (du Pont, 1998). Therefore, the importance of an established implementation of online journalism is imperative in order for it to thrive.
Thanks to technology, the influx of media collectivity has a jump from live broadcast on TV or radio to online live streaming especially in 2015. The resounding mobile app called Periscope is booming thanks to the idea. From here, we could evidently say that the evolution of transmitting popular stories has soared with the Internet in tow. The transition of traditional journalism into online journalism made any journalists and uprising media platforms across the globe scurry to be proficient in the usage of technology by exploring and experimenting the online arena. The usage of live streaming snowballs each day on social media platforms such as Instagram live and Facebook live on our timelines. In spite of the fact, it is up to journalists - both professional and citizen - to upbeat the research tools made available to the general public.
Traditional journalism has expanded the kind of storytelling that not just involve play of words and photojournalism, rather it evolve into something that mostly appeal to the current society. The appeal of visual storytelling which is a blend of words, animation or videos and photos is a whole new level of modern affair. For example, just look up Campaign UK, and online publication platform that prides its identity as “the world’s leading business media brand serving the marketing, advertising and media communities, … a single platform providing real-time news and analysis, and on social media.” With that said, traditional publications evolve corresponding with the Internet boom by engaging with the public through interactivity will continue to be the major technique in the long run.
Open source tech and easy to understand APIs are the brainchild of increasing personnel with digital portfolio. Because of this, they are able to build their own websites from scratch and add on a feature called real time notifications. Real time notifications have the exact feature as emails, only, they serve as an on the spot reminder for users consequently through their gadgets; be it your smartphone, tablet, computer and so forth. They are able to work hand in hand with developers, so journalists could even optimize Twitter’s Firehose to “track, compare and visualize trending topics” (Giuliani, 2016). Having real time on the world over tracks the fresh polls, comments and live blogs which allows a relativity of not having a static page much like a newspaper. As a story matures, the general public are able to engage, update and be updated within the media platform. For example, a UK based sports website which only feature football, Copa90 eagerly covers the entire FIFA World Cup 2018 held in Russia with real time updates and changes of the ongoing matches.
Thanks to the steady climb in interest towards Internet and media platforms, the evolution of journalism succeeded in performance as well. Users of the web are able to tailor how they consume news based on their own experience and preference. By allowing user participation, the need of ‘global language’ is not necessary anymore. The automation of translating articles and videos and subtitles distinct the lines between those who distribute news and those who receive it. The commitment to impart reliable and quality buletin to a vast audience is still upheld even under technological advances. Burns (2013) states that ‘we have moved from an era of transmission to one of conversation.’ For example, media audiences do not want to wait to receive information but ‘they want to interact with it in real-time using mobile technologies.’ Furthermore Burns argues that ‘interactive social networks are the preferred means of communication and ‘wisdom of many’ is preferred over the wisdom of the ‘expert” (Burns 2013:17).
Based on the above analysis, the public's involvement in the journalism process is not new, rather the emergence of citizen journalism online that is in part, a technology-driven mass phenomenon. The significance of the ever progressive journalism industry evolving within the Internet and technological era is a result of sheer acceptance from a modern society for pursuing fast yet credible news. Be it in the global or local sense, the majority votes that the development of participatory journalism continues to thrive and accepted. Media conglomerates are slowly opening up and willing to share the newsworthiness endeavours.