Citizen Journalism and Participatory Culture


Mass Communication's role has changed a bit since the invention of New Media or Social Media. Mass communication before basically involved a sender, a message, a medium and a mass audience. The purpose was to appeal to a wider audience and get your message across to as many people as you can. These days with Social Media, the purpose is not only to get your message across to as many people as you can, but also to get them to participate. Get them to interact with you, by participatory means. Shows like Britain's Got Talent and Big Brother, call for participation from the audience. This culture has mainly spread due to the Internet. 

Participatory culture does not only mean people reacting to television programs and voicing their opinions about what they see, but it also means people coming together, collaborating, building ideas and this culture allows people with similar goals, ambitions and interests to connect to one another. This kind of culture has allowed, celebrities to become ordinary citizens and most importantly ordinary citizens to become celebrities.

Such is the case of Susan Doyle. A participant on Britain's Got Talent who came second in the Final, but still became more famous than the person who won the final. It was due to her Internet stardom. People talking about how Susan Doyle, an ordinary citizen, with no apparent celebrity buzz to her, did end up achieving her 'American Dream' and becoming famous through that show. This is the participatory culture that New Media practitioners and scholars talks about. People reacted to and talked about Susan Doyle and her impeccable performances on the show and her Youtube videos got millions of views, which made her talked about even on US television talk-shows, such as, Oprah Winfrey Show. 

Due to New Media and people being able to take a camera and upload a picture, or write an article and post it in a blog, it has become very easy for people to become pseudo journalists. They are not really professional journalists, nor have they studied journalism, they are just people who act the way journalists do, using the Internet. This kind of journalism is being labelled alternative journalism by some. Alternative journalism or media, is separate from the mainstream media and it allows the distribution of information using other means, such as social media platforms and blogs etc. It is all due to technological advances and the Internet, a normal ordinary citizen is able to bypass the gatekeeper, that is normally required in a traditional media setting, but is able to post information or a message themselves. 

Also due to the Internet and technological advances, we human beings are no longer restricted to few options of viewing. Our viewing patterns and behaviours has changed as well. Before with limited options, we were restricted to the cinema screen, the television screen and the radio. With the evolving technology and more options, we are able to select how to view something, when to view something and even where to view something. Before, the only way someone could view a movie was to watch it in the cinema, then came the invention of the VHS and the movies were available to watch at home, at our own convenience. Then came the technology of the DVD which made the old VHS technology obsolete. Now we have multiple technologies on our hands, that we use for viewership. We have the DVD which is still in use, we have the BlueRay, we have online streaming, we have Video on Demand, that we use on our television using set boxes and watch television channels, however we please.

This proves that technology evolves and along with that so does our viewing patterns. Audience and the technology are linked side by side, the audience uses whatever technology is available to them and these days, thanks to the Internet and New Media, Citizen/Mobile Journalism, Alternative Journalism are thriving and so has the Internet and technology changed the audience too. It is far easier to target and reach the audience now, it is easy to target ads and know what the particular audience likes, it is even easy to calculate the audience flow of a particular program. 

 

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