Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Mass amateurization refers to the process where the difference between the experts and amateurs is dissolving and creating a new category of professional amateurs. [1]In the publishing world, because of the web, professional publishers are not being recognized like they used to be. “A professional learns things in a way that differentiates her from most of the populace”[2]. When publishing was an expensive and rare thing to do, a professional publisher would decide what is important to publish in the newspaper and what isn’t. What the web is doing is that it is giving any one the ability to publish a story whether it is important or not. It is inexpensive and easy to publish a story on the web. When a professional publisher publishes a story in a newspaper it is because he or she thinks it is something worth publishing but because it is so easy to publish on the web an amateur can and will publish that same story along with many other stories. The professional publisher doesn’t seem so professional anymore.

Clay explains that one doesn’t need to become a publisher to publish. “For a generation that is growing up without the scarcity that made publishing such a serious-minded pursuit, the written word has no special value in and of itself.”[3] The scarcity of a publisher is what makes him or her special. He is one of a kind. There isn’t much scarcity anymore because anyone can have the ability to publish an event. The outcome of mass amateurization is the loss of professionalism. The Internet is easy to access and free so people don’t mind getting their news from there instead of the newspaper. Blogs and social networks for some people are a replacement to the newspaper and professional journalism.

A personal example of mass amateurization actually happened in my very own high school. The school talent show was always very limited, only the best of the best made the cut but this year things were different. The school principal wanted t to give everyone an opportunity to be in the talent show so everyone who tried out was able to be in it. The best singers and musicians got lost in the crowd because they were surrounded by amateurs. There was no longer a scarcity of professionals. This is an example of what Clay describes as “mass amateurization”.

“News for news sake will continue to be commoditized, but news that is specific to the end user and filled with real-time education will be hard to come by and highly valued.”[4] Although it seems like the amateurs of the web are taking over, people do value breaking news written by a professional rather than an amateur. The expression of different ideas on the web is important however when one is looking for facts they will always turn to the professionals. I believe the future for professional journalism is not going anywhere. Their word will always be valued and respected.

Clay discusses how mass amateurization affects professional journalists as well as photographers many other professions. I still however do believe that professionals will always be valued over amateurs. When people are looking for the best they will turn to the professionals. The best photographers and journalist are still highly respected and they always will be.

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