Thursday, August 11, 2011

Clay Shirky writes about "mass amateurization" in his chapter Everyone is a media outlet. He explains that with new technology comes more power for the average person. The power to publish things such as books, photographs, news, and music, no longer lies in the hands of a professional publisher. Now anyone with a computer and internet access can publish his/her ideas to the world. Shirky gives an example of photography. Years ago a photography was a profession, a photographer had expensive camera equipment, photo paper and a red room, now all a person needs is a camera or not even a camera, a phone with an inbuilt camera, and a printer. Shirky describes how professions such as a scribes are embedded in technology, now the question is are journalists embedded in technology, and now that there is new technology will journalism become a profession that will shrink in importance, as the photography profession did?

Shirky goes into detail about the change journalism is going through, and has been going through since the widespread use of the world wide web. In today's world anyone can publish news, and more and more citizen journalists have been publishing news before "legitimate" major news sources have. Twitter, blogs, facebook, youtube, and even e-mails are just a few of the ways average person can publish their works. What effect does this have for journalists, those journalists who are considered professionals that is, will they soon become extinct? Shirky says "if everyone can do something, it is no longer rare enough to pay for, even if it is vital", this is becoming true with journalism, who wants to pay for a newspaper if they can just go online and view the paper online for free?

Journalistic privileges are in danger, because now everyone can be a journalist. I can report a news story on this blog right now if I wanted to, but what if I posted a story about a crime that just happened and had inside information as to who committed the crime. Do I have journalistic privileges? That is the question Shirky poses, with mass amateurization everyone can claim they are "journalists", "who are journalists" and "who, exactly, should enjoy journalistic privilege"?

No one can predict the future, but we can speculate. I agree with both Dan Rather and Shirky. Professional journalists are still necessary and hopefully will continue to be necessary. Journalists are "gatekeepers", as Shirky calls them, they are respected as professionals whose work is credible. Journalists can tell us the whole story, with background information and still have the power to reach people of higher status (such as the president, or an expert) and to share their talk's with those of higher status with the general public. Citizen, or amateur journalists can present some stories professional journalists can not, such as in Iran where there is much government censorship, or like in Egypt during the riots. I like the balance between the two and hope that this balanced relationship will continue.

Shirky, Clay. "Everyone Is a Media Outlet." Here Comes Everybody: the Power of Organizing without Organizations. New York: Penguin, 2008. 55-80.

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