This blog cycle we were asked whether some of the recent advancements in internet based communication tools had influenced us to become more active produsers of citizen journalism/activism. When I answered this question I reflected upon my activity prior to social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Actually, I was able to reflect back to a time before computers were common place and journalism classrooms were filled with electric typewriters. Knowing that I have more than a few years on most of my fellow bloggers, I could not help but wonder what their point of reference would be, more active compared to what/when? Would it be 2005, when YouTube became available for video sharing? Would it be 2006 when Facebook was opened to anyone over 13? Would it be 2007, when Twitter started to gain traction? I imagine for some bloggers this might have been a difficult distinction to make. I noticed that most still refer to blogs, Twitter and Facebook as their citizen journalism/activism vehicles and that they generally agreed the availability of these resources encouraged them to be more frequent produsers. Blogger Pp10il (2013) writes “In my opinion having an increase in new opportunities does in fact encourage me to participate directly in citizen journalism”. Blogger Jdibiase (2013) realized “once I looked more closely at my social media habits, I have come to realize that the emergence of these new opportunities have caused me to engage more in journalism and activism”.
The most interesting thing that came out of my own reflection this session was that for me it isn’t the medium that persuades me to participate in citizen journalism it is the message. If I believe I have something worth sharing, I will share it by whatever means at my disposal. I realize now that this isn’t so different from peoples’ usage of social media. Jdibiase (2013) writes “Many people ‘tweet’ because they want to express how they feel about a situation. They ‘re-tweet’ information that they found interesting and want others to know about it.” I have to admit that I don’t fully comprehend the amount of personal information and/or emotion sharing that occurs on social media sites, or how some determine what may be considered interesting, however, when I asked Jdibiase what her contributions were during the Tim Bosma case she replied “I tweeted prayer’s, articles, missing poster photos, videos and so forth”(Jdibiase, 2013). These are all positive actions and even though I may not participate in them, I can at least appreciate why others would. (thanks for the reply to my question) I think it will be interesting to watch what the effects of such large public outpourings of goodwill and support will mean for society in years to come .
My summary wouldn’t be complete without a shout out to blogger Mcgip. The interweaving of the grassroots analogy in her original blog post was wonderful to read and the Arab Springs Revolution example, used to demonstrate the collective power of citizen journalism/activism, was very convincing.
To my fellow 2F00 bloggers, all the best in your future endeavours and continue to find your voice. I will leave you with these famous words from Henry Anatole Grunwald “Journalism can never be silent: that is its greatest virtue and its greatest fault. It must speak, and speak immediately, while the echoes of wonder, the claims of triumph and the signs of horror are still in the air.”
Digital Journalism: Social Media: Jdibaise (2013, July 8). In Jdibiase blog. Retrieved 01:35, July 10, 2013 from http://jdibiase18.wordpress.com/2013/07/08/digital-journalism-social-media/
Henry Anatole Grunwald. (n.d.). BrainyQuote.com. Retrieved July 10, 2013, from BrainyQuote.com Web site: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/h/henryanato113731.html
Journalism in the Digital age: Jdibaise (2013, July 4). In Jdibiase blog. Retrieved 01:33, July 10, 2013 fromhttp://jdibiase18.wordpress.com/2013/07/04/journalism-in-the-digital-age/
New Form of Citizen Journalism: Pp10il (2013, July 2). In Water consumption: Damaging the environment? Retrieved 1:44, July 10, 2013 from http://environment2013blog.wordpress.com/2013/07/02/new-form-of-citizen-journalism/
Shallow Roots: Module 6 initial post: Mcgip (2013, July 05). Mcgip’s Blog. Retrieved 1:36, July 10, 2013 from http://mcgip.wordpress.com/2013/07/05/shallow-roots-module-6-initial-post/
A closed ended question with a 300 to 500 word explanation requirement hmmm?
As my blog title indicates, my short answer to the question posed to us this week is ‘no’ the emergence of new opportunities for citizen journalism and/or social activism does not encourage me to participate more directly. Of course my short answer may be a little misleading so let me explain. I have been around long enough to have been directly involved in, for the sake of a comparative term, old journalism opportunities. Many, many years ago I thought I should pursue a career in journalism because I liked to write. (point of reflection the two do not necessarily go hand in hand) After spending nearly two years studying the profession, I had a particularly eye opening experience. I was asked to cover a story that required me to delve into some personal details of a group of students. The information was needed to provide some background to a story our paper was covering. I soon realized this aspect of journalism, which required me to insert myself into an unfolding event, probe into and expose people’s lives during difficult or tragic circumstances, was not something I ever wanted to get comfortable doing. I changed my career goals accordingly. Since that experience, there have been a handful of occasions where I have felt compelled by circumstances to get involved, as a citizen, in reporting or clarifying events. Most of these actions occurred through traditional journalism methods but I am certain they will continue no matter what the medium.
What has been confirmed for me, particularly after reading the Bruns and Highfield (2012) article, which demonstrated the high volumes of Twitter activity surrounding several recent natural disasters and political upheavals, the new media opportunities have provided the tools for more people to insert themselves into unfolding events. We see pictures of tragic events taken from cell phones, we read details of events, as they are happening, from onsite citizens. It seems to have become a reflex for many of us to take a picture, text a friend and now I suppose tweet to an unknown audience when we find ourselves in the midst of an event we believe to be of interest to others. For better or worse there seems to be no formal filter to verify the content. How do we know what to believe when we know the same technology that permits us to communicate so freely is also capable of altering the content we share? Perhaps it is acceptable for us to rely on the masses of citizen journalists/activists to confirm or deny information through collaborative efforts such as Bruns and Highfield (2012) suggest:
the point at which ambient journalism becomes actual news coverage and dissemination, where a substantial number of Twitter users come together to – in journalistic parlance –“work the story” and engage in a more or less committed and orchestrated effort at gatewatching and disseminating relevant information. (p.16)
I guess my main concern with citizen journalism/activism is that the people who want to cause harm to others and distract or mislead the public have the same access to the technology as the people who want to warn others of danger and inform them of real-life events. We have yet to clarify responsibility for vetting good from bad, right from wrong, except perhaps for our own accountability to verify before we believe.
The delays in information dissemination, once inherent to traditional technologies such as getting reporters to the sites of news events, have been overcome with new media. Any citizen within close proximity to an event, who possesses a cell phone, can report the unfolding conditions of the event with the click of a button. However, as Friedman (2011) explains, “The speed of online dissemination had its good and bad points. Although information appeared quickly, if something went viral, it was widely distributed without much thought about its accuracy or the credibility of its sources” (p.67). It seems we may be trading speed of information for accuracy of content. In most cases I expect the facts eventually get distilled from the fiction but there is potential for negative outcomes while misinformation circulates. Whether journalists take on the role of curators, as suggested by Hermida (2012), or ad hoc groups of citizens increase their role in vetting online content, I believe validation of content is still very important in this age of information overload.
So, while my own participation as a producer of content has not changed, it seems evident that others’ participation as produsers has increased with the advent of new media.
Hermida, A. (2012). TWEETS AND TRUTH: Journalism as a discipline of collaborative verification. Journalism Practice. 6:5-6, p659-668.
Bruns, A. & T. Highfield. (2012). Blogs, Twitter, and breaking news: The produsage of citizen journalism. pre-publication draft on personal site [Snurb.info]. Published in: Lind, R. A. ed. (2012). Produsing Theory in a Digital World: The Intersection of Audiences and Production. New York: Peter Lang. p15-32.
Friedman, S. M. (2011). Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima: An analysis of traditional and new media coverage of nuclear accidents and radiation. Bulletin Of The Atomic Scientists, 67(5), 55-65.
The podcast titled Canada, Consumption and the Carbon Diet begins and ends with passages from Duane Elgin. Mr Elgin is an author, speaker and a trans-partisan media activist. He has contributed a number of stories to the Great Transitions Stories website that I have enjoyed reading. The opening portion of the passage frames the enormity of the climate change disruption we currently face. The closing passage provides a message of hope for the awareness and understanding we need to respond to the climate change challenge.
The majority of the podcast provides a view of Canada’s ability to produce enough low-carbon energy to meet our consumption needs by the year 2050 and stresses the need for consumption reductions. In his blog post Canada has no shortage of low-carbon energy, energy policy analyst, Tyler Bryant, summarizes some key points from the Trottier Energy Futures Project Report, An Inventory on Low – Carbon Energy for Canada (2013). The passage from Bryant highlights Canada’s wealth of future energy options to which I add a summary of some historical data from the Trottier report and discuss Canadian energy consumption issues.
Bryant, T. (2013, March). Canada has no shortage of low-carbon energy. Retrieved from
Carbon Diet (2011). Going Green Steps. Retrieved from: http://www.carbondiet.ca/going_green/6-steps-
Elgin, D. (2011). Climate change requires consciousness change. Retrieved from Great Transition
Torrie R.D., Bryant T., Beer M., Anderson B., Marshall D., Kadowaki R., &Whitmore J. (2013). An
Inventory of Low-Carbon Energy for Canada.pdf. Retrieved from David Suzuki Foundation website: http://www.davidsuzuki.org/publications/downloads/An%20Inventory%20of%20Low-Carbon%20Energy%20for%20Canada.pdf
One thing stood out quite clearly in this module’s blog cycle, the music/media industry is losing ground to public opinion on the subject of online piracy. Although each blogger this week defined their participation in online media downloading and file sharing as limited, none believed these actions should be considered criminal. Jdibiase(2013) posted “I agree recording companies should make a profit, however, I do not believe that there should be punishment with the law” and Mcgip(2013) commented “I find the fact that music piracy is deemed an illegal activity is absurd when one country has free access to content from the original source, while another neighbouring country cannot access the material”. No one in our small sampling of consumers spoke in support of the media industry’s right to take legal action against online pirates.
Mcgip (2013) asked us whether we believe online piracy is immoral. This is another area where the media industry is at an impasse with its consumers. Steinmetz and Tunnell (2013) cite several examples of the media industry using copyright laws as a means to make public examples of individuals participating online piracy activities (p.54-55). I expect the industry was hoping the widespread legal actions would instill public fear and contain the growing public notion that downloading and file-sharing is ok. Unfortunately for the media industry, while they were busy using legal strong arm tactics to try remind us that downloading and file-sharing is stealing and therefore immoral the groundswell of everyday citizens participating in online piracy continued to evolve into a community that generally considers file-sharing as a natural, accepted, and even expected behaviour. Just like our sample of bloggers this week, the growing online community sees nothing immoral about downloading copyrighted music, television and movie files.
Jdibiase(2013) provided our blogging group with a musician’s perspective of online piracy, explaining from firsthand experience how difficult it is to make money from music sales, especially when so much music is available to users for free. Our readings this module and our blog discussions of these readings indicate that most users are more apt to pay for music when they feel a close connection to the artist and want to support them. The music industry places so many people between the artist(s) and their fans that the connection to the artist’s income needs is lost to the average consumer. Instead, online pirates reason that the artist receives such a small percentage of the purchase price that they will hardly miss the revenue lost to online downloading and file sharing. Blogger meaghantrindade (2013) commented that she is “more than sure that artist, actors, music labels and what have you already make enough money as it is. Let us live our pirate lives!” I believe, based on the overwhelming growth of online piracy activity, that meaghantrindade’s comment represents the views of the average modern pirate.
This week I wandered over to another blog group and read/commented on Shannon Cole’s post. Cole (2013) posits that “as for the distributor, perhaps they no longer have a meaningful role to play in the world of artist creations.” I believe the middle men in the music industry have already read the writing on the wall (blog, website, tweet). They see the ground they are losing to the public piracy mindset, as discussed above; they have witnessed stardom swell from direct online relationships between amateur musicians and fans; they know these two groups have an easy to use distribution channel that does not require a middle man. Industry middlemen cling to enforcing copyright laws in an effort to prove their value as protectors of artist’s rights. The problem they face is that the numbers of piracy participants is growing too large and too fast for the slow moving courts, spearheaded by industry moguls, to shut it down. As Lessig’s (2004) and my fellow bloggers have indicated, it is time for media industry moguls to join us on our pirate ship rather than trying to sink it…in the words of police chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) we’re “going to need a bigger boat” (Jaws, 1975)
A Pirates Life for Me Comment Page: Meaghantrindade. (2013, June 24). In Environest blog. Retrieved 22:45, June 24, 2013 from https://environest.wordpress.com/2013/06/20/a-pirates-life-for-me/comment-page-1/#comment-29
Larry Lessig: Laws that choke creativity. TED Talks (2007). Filmed March 2007, posted November
Lawful or Unlawful: Cole, Shannon (2013, June 20). In COMM2F00 blog. Retrieved 22:26, June 24, 2013 from http://shannc28.blogspot.ca/2013/06/lawful-or-unlawful.html
Piracy in the Digital age: Jdibaise (2013, June 20). In Jdibiase blog. Retrieved 22:35, June 24, 2013 from http://jdibiase18.wordpress.com/2013/06/20/piracy-in-the-digital-age/
Steinmetz, K., K. Tunnell (2013). Under the Pixelated Jolly Roger: A Study of On-Line Pirates. Deviant Behavior. 34 (1), pg. 53-67
The Piracy (Re)evolution: Mcgip (2013, June 21). Mcgip’s Blog. Retrieved 22:30, June 24, 2013 from http://mcgip.wordpress.com/2013/06/21/the-pirate-revoluntion/
Since I used up my Napster story in module 4, and I generally don’t download free/purchased music files, I have decided to expand the scope of this post to include the media industry rather than just the music industry. My own deviant piracy behaviour tends to be related to the television and movie industry. Much like the pirates studied by Steinmetz and Tunnell (2013), I justify my deviant ways under the guises of content sharing and content sampling. Condry (2004) discusses the social aspects of sharing music:
there is a particular pleasure to be had in turning on a friend or family member to music that they don’t know. In a very real way, it creates a social bond. Afterwards, the two people can talk about new albums, news about the artists or the scent, upcoming show, and so on…The closer we feel to another person making the recommendation, the more likely the music is to pique our curiosity (p.348).
I suggest that these social influences are true of most media sharing. I have a close group of friends who have similar tastes in music, movies and television programming so if one of us comes across something of value (amidst the plethora of subpar content) we’ll share it with the group. Since all of us have very busy and very diverse schedules, it is just more convenient to share a link so we can download the item and watch it at our leisure. Generally, if we lived in the US, we could download much of this programming from an original source for free. Viewing the content in Canada causes me to choose to undermine authority and view pirated content. Most often, if I like the content I sampled, I’ll view more of it from a legal source. My behavior supports the Steinmetz and Tunnell (2013) findings that “piracy allows individuals to cull out sub-par material” and “content defined as “good enough” is eventually purchased” (quote in original, p.58)
In considering how the music industry, and other media industries, might move forward from their current piracy perception to a more open content sharing position I find myself aligned with Larry Lessig (2007):
We need the businesses that are building out this read/write culture to embrace this opportunity expressly to enable it. So that this ecology of free content, or freer content, can grow on a neutral platform, where they both exist simultaneously. So that more free can compete with less free, and the opportunity to develop the creativity in that competition can teach one the lessons of the other.
Lessig’s words imply that it is time for media giants to get on board with the paid and unpaid use of their intellectual property. Rather than putting up road blocks to non-commercial creativity they should look to examples where consumer (re)usage has increased commercial consumption and even provided fodder for new commercial opportunities. The lessons for media giants are out there. Condry’s (2004) attribution of global anime success to the practice of fansubbing is almost 10 years old and yet US based media giants still clutch to their copyright control. Perhaps it will take a critical mass of consumer/producers turning away from tightly restricted material and turning to open amateur material, as suggested by Lessig’s (2004) BMI example, to force media giants to take heed of the lessons and release their collective grip on creativity. Until then, it is a pirate’s life for me.
Larry Lessig: Laws that choke creativity. TED Talks (2007). Filmed March 2007, posted November 2007. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Q25-S7jzgs&feature=player_embedded
Steinmetz, K., K. Tunnell (2013). Under the Pixelated Jolly Roger: A Study of On-Line Pirates. Deviant Behavior. 34 (1), pg. 53-67