This blog was published with the help of mobile technology, participatory culture, free speech and just a dash of research but could something like this ever contribute to journalism?
In order for journalism to be successful in this new digital environment Pavlik (2013) suggests it needs to involve research, freedom of speech, truth, accuracy and ethical decision making. Not only that but it is suggested news needs to be even more participatory and reciprocal. (Domingo 2008) Audience participation is already encouraged at some levels of journalism through comment, debate and sharing once information is already in the public sphere. However when it comes to deciding what is included in the public sphere, in the stage that Domingo (2008) refers to as the filtering and selection stage, there is little to no participation by the audience. Professional journalists remain the key gatekeepers, deciding what is newsworthy and why.
The issue then becomes how to strike a balance between participation from individuals who are not professionals and maintaining an appropriate level of quality, truth and accuracy.
As seen during the Boston bombings in 2013, overenthusiastic participation from rumor loving, entertainment seeking individuals is often less than helpful. The participation on social media was seen by many as critical crowd sourcing in a time of need but which Sanchez (2013) points out was actually just speculation and not only that but dangerous, potentially life changing, speculation. Starkman (2013) goes further stating, “…the Boston Marathon bombings illustrate how quickly rational public conversation can devolve…” Given the quality of this example of participation via social media, it is no surprise that journalists and organisations are approaching the idea of further participatory roles with trepidation and doubts about an unpredictable public.
Another issue involved in higher levels of audience participation is the need to screen massive amounts of citizen contributions. This gatekeeper role could potentially provide jobs for many professional journalists displaced by the move to digital media however it is also a very labour intensive operation in an as yet largely revenue sparse environment. As the closure of the Global Mail is testament to.
Domingo, D, Quandt, T, Heinonen, A, Paulussen, S, Singer, J.B & Vujnovic, M 2008,“Participatory Journalism Practices In The Media And Beyond,” Journalism Practice,2:3, 326-342.
Pavlik, J.V 2013, “Innovation And The Future Of Journalism,” Digital Journalism,1:2, 181-193.
Sanchez, R 2013, ‘Boston marathon bombings: how social media identified wrong suspects’, The Telegraph UK, 19th April, viewed 02/04/14, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/10006028/Boston-marathon-bombings-how-social-media-identified-wrong-suspects.html.
Starkman, R 2013, The boston marathon bombings and social media: a discussion with students, HASTAC, blog post, 25th April, viewed 02/04/14, http://www.hastac.org/blogs/ruth-starkman/2013/04/25/boston-marathon-bombings-and-social-media-discussion-students-0.