Old-school citizen media meet the Web 2.0

As tools for interaction and dissemination of information on the web have significantly increased over the last 10-20 years, the media landscape has also changed. This literature review will look at these issues and be divided in two sub-sections, namely ‘Have independent channels for citizen media outlived themselves?’ and ‘Can old-school citizens media meet the Web 2.0 social media ‘revolution’?’

Have independent channels for citizen media outlived themselves?

To be able to properly answer this question, one first has to define ‘citizens media’. ‘Citizens media’ is the different ways that citizens can become participants in the media field, using a range of various access points. Rodriquez talks of the transformative processes that this causes, both for the participants and their communities (Rodriguez 2001).

The ways that ‘normal’ citizens can engage in the media field today are numerous and include; blogs, podcasts, digital storytelling, twitter, community radio and participatory video. The level of access though varies as not all these forms of tools are available to all people, due to different level of economic development (Pieterse in Lovink & Zehle 2005:11).

In the changing media culture, not all actors survive, this is also true for social media tools. E.g. MySpace was a highly popular site, but has since its glory days lost a significant percentage of its users. The reasons to the plummet in users are multiple and include; bad design, poor usage of advertisements and management issues (James 2009).

Despite the fact that not all actors survive, citizens media has not outlived itself. On the contrary, citizens media is quickly adapting and thereby strengthening its position in the media field.

Can old-school citizens media meet the Web 2.0 social media ‘revolution’?

Web 2.0 opens up venues for interaction for everyone who can technically access it. It is therefore the key to the social media ‘revolution’ (O’Reilly 2005). Due to its rise, the use and reach of certain forms of media has also diminished. Twenty years ago, media and dissemination of information was based on TV, radio and newspapers. While the citizens could impact this media by sending in comments or being interviewed, it was still mainly a one way communication, while via twitter, facebook accounts and email there is now a stronger two way communication (Castells 2009).

‘Old-school’ media can definitely meet the ‘revolution’, but it does put up requirements on adapting to new circumstances, which some actors will not manage. The printed version of most news papers have decreased and to counteract a diminishing circle of readers, most newspapers are now available online, some free of charge while others only allow a segment of the edition to be viewed online, while the user has to pay for the full edition. Television stations take in footage from citizens. Thus, old-school citizens media is not likely to disappear, particularly not in those geographical areas where the Internet access is still limited. (Bunz 2010, Pieterse in Lovink & Zehle 2005:13-14). Many are also still reluctant to the accuracy of the information provided via social media, and will be more inclined to trust printed media sources. Thus, part of the old-school citizens media is likely to adapt and find new forms to continue to still play an important role.


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