Have Independent Channels for Citizen Media Outlived Themselves?
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The very core of social media is the citizen. Without the individuals who support and actively take part in the sharing of information or network building, the whole philosophy of social media will crumble. The term citizen (Dahlgren, 2009) signifies the notion of public, where interaction happens between individuals who are engaged in providing service and delivering help to other people in society. Through interaction and engagement of participants, democratic voices are and can be amplified by utilizing different medium of communication. And since social media foster participation, it does not necessarily follow the concept of mediascapes (Appadurai, 1996), an image-centered presentation of reality, where the place of the individual is at the receiving end (Kivikuru, 2005). One can easily imagine this through advertising and news feeds that we get from different institutions. However, the democratic citizens break away from that principle by actively giving and sharing with others instead of merely accepting what is being offered to them. Consequently, the conception of citizen media (Rodriguez, 2001) has brought us a fresh and clear understanding of how the citizens practice their citizenship through active intervention, challenging social norms, and community empowerment. These three facets mark the essence of a citizen, and all of them point to the principles of participatory, where people make the most of their authority to communicate what they think is best for them, and where they stop being passive consumers (Hintz, 2007) and start voicing out their ideas so that they can affect others in their community and together forge change in society.
The interplay between citizen media and social media can be understood on how the citizens develop the social media tools that are available for them whenever they mass communicate. Several millions of information exchange is continuously happening, and this is, as well, what we can call the downside of citizen media. Participating citizens are relentlessly on the look or in search for the truth; therefore, one can say that everyone is watching everyone. Citizen media succeeded in transcending an online social community, and it is this participatory role of the citizen when it comes to creating information that made the credibility of citizen media questionable (Rosenberry and St. John, 2010). There are many independent channels of citizen media, and not all of them are bound to survive. One example of this is MySpace. There are many speculations on why it has outlived itself and why its membership has plummeted. Some argues that it is because of the company’s high pursuit of profit (Bajarin, 2011), while others advocate that MySpace lost its prestige and members because of management mistake (Hartung, 2011). Whichever is the rationale behind MySpace’s downfall, the active citizens have decided to find another medium where they can maximize their influence and that is more fitting to their lifestyle. The concept ‘citizen media’ has not outlived itself; on the contrary it has become stronger. It has even brought out new players or channels in the arena. However, there is no guarantee that every player will survive.