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Aﬀect Citizen Journalism, and How Will This Impact on Traditional Journalism?
Matthew W. A. Sparkes BSc School of Computing Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich, United Kingdom, NR4 7TJ firstname.lastname@example.org February 15, 2006
1 Group Working 2 Introduction 3 The Birth of Traditional Journalism 3.1 Development of Movable Type Printing Press and Steam Engines . . . . . . . . . . . 3.2 Telegraph and Telephone . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 The 4.1 4.2 4.3 Birth of Citizen Journalism Ethos of Citizen Journalism . . . . . . . Does the Lack of Experience Matter? . . Moore’s Law Brings Technology into the 4.3.1 The Internet Revolution . . . . . 4.3.2 Digital Photography . . . . . . . 0 1 1 1 2 2 3 3 4 4 6 6 7 7 8 8 8 9 9
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5 What Really Drives Journalism? 5.1 What Do Readers Want From Journalism? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.2 Online Journalism Becomes Free to Run . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 The Current Landscape of Journalism 6.1 The Decline of Mainstream Media . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6.2 Emergence - The Relentless Rise of Citizen Journalism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Conclusion 7.1 Convergence - A Model for the Future . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
My group consisted of myself, Anthony Grimmitt and Christopher Smith, and we met on a few occasions in order to coordinate the research performed for these essays. I believed that it would be a wise idea to coordinate not just within the group, but also within the class, speciﬁcally on the selection of topics chosen for research. In this way we could ensure that no overlap was performed in research, and as wide a range of research could be done as was possible in the timeframe. To this end I set up a section on my website where I oﬀered to post a list of names and chosen topics of research. I also stated that I was willing to place the research there also, to allow anyone to read over the body of work as a whole. This was met with very little enthusiasm however, and no one chose to take me up on that oﬀer, except within my own group. The whole endeavor turned out to be rather unnecessary; I received some research from Christopher, which was of no bearing to my own work, and none from Anthony whatsoever. I placed my essay online, at periodic intervals, whilst writing it in lieu of research as I had a very clear idea in mind of what to write, so research and writing were performed in parallel. On another note, I feel that I should disclose that I work for the BBC website, which is used as a reference in this essay, in order to avoid any possible hidden bias.
Technological advances have been inextricably linked to the ability to disseminate information since the invention of the written word. From monks copying bibles by hand, we progress to the invention of the printing press, which was a massive paradigm shift, and had cascading repercussions on many aspects of everyday life. Then we have the emergence of broadcast mediums such as radio and television, and ﬁnally the Internet which have each changed the way we learn of current events. This essay will brieﬂy explore the emergence of traditional journalism such as newspapers, and examine how they only became possible once the right technology was available to facilitate it. It will also examine the phenomenon that is citizen journalism. This term Is meant as those individuals who take it upon themselves to write and spread information by themselves, without the intervention of a media organisation, whatever their chosen medium. This has it’s roots in photocopied newsletters, although these were traditionally niche publications with a limited distribution and a solitary, possibly biased reporter. What citizen journalism needed to ﬂourish was a medium where the overhead costs were not linked to distribution numbers in a linear way; this came in the form of the Internet. Once it had attracted widespread adoption it took oﬀ as a means of cheap publishing that could reach an international audience. Therefore, in this essay when we use the term citizen journalist, we primarily mean online citizen journalist. The term ’citizen journalist’ and the term ’blogger’ (an abbreviation of web-logger) can be considered interchangeable, and taken to mean someone who uses the Internet to disseminate articles written and researched by one person. This sort of online citizen journalism also has been altered by new technology, despite it’s relatively short life-span. After examining the eﬀect of previous innovations on the ﬁeld, the essay will ﬁnish by looking to the future to assess the possible implications of emerging technologies on journalism, and what this will do to the current model of media.
The Birth of Traditional Journalism
People have always felt the need to share information and hold power to account, and this is indeed all that journalism is. In China, as early as the Sung Dynasty which spanned from 960 - 1279, there were Tipao, or public information sheets. They were simple texts designed to inform citizens of certain events, although their circulation wasn’t large as they had to be hand written.  Technology slowly broke down these barriers of cost and complexity to allow large distribution, relatively cheap newspapers to emerge and give birth to journalism in the form of cheap and plentiful newspapers. These technologies essentially transformed journalism from an elitist and hugely expensive luxury into printed press as we know it as today. 
Development of Movable Type Printing Press and Steam Engines
Before the introduction of the printing press all text had to be hand written, which is not conducive to large scale distribution of information, in terms of time or cost. Wooden presses had been in use for some time when the movable type press was invented, but a complete copy of the page had to be carved in reverse on a block of wood. This meant that any form of news distribution was impossible as the blocks were too time intensive to create. They also wore out quickly, which would have required many blocks to be made if distribution was to be large. With the movable type press this was not necessary, and the press could be quickly conﬁgured to print a new page, with their modular letters building a page in pieces. Being made of metal they were also far more resilient. 1
The very ﬁrst mass produced book to be made with these new presses was the Gutenberg bible, named after the press’ inventor, Johann Gutenberg. The bible was chosen for the ﬁrst text due to it’s guaranteed popularity.  The increased availability of texts had many advantages, arguably the most important of which was increased literacy due to cheaper and more available books, although they were by no means aﬀordable by the majority. This technology facilitated easier printing, but the technique was still slow and costly compared to modern printing. A copy of the Gutenberg bible was more aﬀordable than a hand written version, but still cost 3 times the average salary of a clerk at the time. These texts had become more available, but their beneﬁts still eluded the average man. The invention of steam engines, and the subsequent fusion of these two technologies into the much faster steam powered printing press by Friedrich Koenig and Andreas Friedrich Bauer in 1812 helped to reduce these costs further, and allow even cheaper texts like newspapers to become feasible. This lead to newspapers becoming popular, helping both to increase public awareness of current events, and spread literacy to the masses. This relatively simple idea changed everything, especially for the lower classes, leading to a far higher average level of education and awareness.
Telegraph and Telephone
Technology has proven to be self facilitating inspiration for innovation, the emergence of one invention tends to lead to increasing speed in development of that idea. For example, the invention of the alphabet and the invention of the printing press are separated by 3000 years, meaning that it took thirty centuries from developing text to being able to mass produce copies of text. However, from the invention of the printing press to the existence of mobile, wireless internet enabled devices that allow us to search the world’s information via Google, there is only 500 years.  The start of this sequence of invention, leading to these devices, was the invention of the telegraph, and ultimately the telephone network. Both had huge repercussions not only on journalism but to every aspect of society. For the ﬁrst time ever information could travel quicker than humans. Telegraph enabled reporters to write international stories the day they happened, where as before the ﬁrst anyone would know of it would be when the ﬁrst ship docked from that country. Telephones allowed reporters to phone stories in from their location, speeding up the process of creating a publication, and enabling stories to get into print on that day’s edition that may have had to wait for the following day previously.  These two examples are diﬀerent in the distance from story to oﬃce, but both describe an important impact of telecommunications on journalism - news could travel faster than people. This changed journalism in a very fundamental way, and enabled organizations like the Associated Press to form, allowing global aggregation of information in a timely manner.
The Birth of Citizen Journalism
As with organised journalism, there was a technology that enabled citizen journalism to emerge as a realistic model for journalism, and this was the Internet. It overcame the cost and distribution problems that a very small publication faced, and gave people a medium to get their content published. ”Never in the history of journalism has a new medium appeared so rapidly out of the blackness and with such volatile consequences” 
Ethos of Citizen Journalism
The driving force behind citizen journalism varies, but all share the common desire to get their opinion ’out there’. This can either be due to a certain amount of arrogance on the part of the writer, or the belief that their opinion is in some way unique and therefore valuable. Some have very speciﬁc expertise, and feel that they are best suited to reporting on that very niche topic. There is also a very strong feeling online that putting content out there, freely available is a very benevolent and important act. The Creative Commons copyright license shows this sentiment clearly, and many bloggers release content under this license to allow others to use and alter this information, the ultimate aim being to create a free ﬂow of information unhindered by archaic copyright law to enable anyone to analyse any information, anytime. They will almost always post the full content of their articles online, unlike many commercial sites aﬃliated with newspapers that fail to do this, or require registration or subscription to access that content. Publications lose much respect, and therefore traﬃc by doing this. The New York Times are a prime example, who require a registration process to read their material, and have been widely criticised for this as it means that third party analysis of articles on other sites cannot link to the original text, destroying the networked beneﬁt of the Internet. A site called Bug Me Not shows public feeling towards this sort of behavior. One can visit the site and obtain anonymous login details for almost any site, to circumvent this arcane registration process.  Citizen journalism has a much more open attitude to traditional journalism, one often cited reason for this is that traditional publications have proﬁts to protect and must resort to closing oﬀ some content for paying readers, but this is a poor excuse for not taking up innovative new revenue streams that have been proven to work.
Does the Lack of Experience Matter?
There is a common, but largely inaccurate argument that citizen journalism is of limited value, due to the lack of professionalism displayed. Most citizen journalists will not be trained as journalists, but journalists in organised publications do not have to have a media related degree, and in fact the many skills of people in citizen journalism may even be beneﬁcial. Dependent upon the type of journalism attempted, it is perfectly appropriate for someone with the relevant knowledge to write on a topic. For example, a site about mnusic, including reviews would be entirely possible, but an ill informed and untrained individual trying to cover legal news would probably ﬁnd himself subpoenaed very quickly. Copyright is also another problem that bloggers can ﬁnd themselves encountering die to a general ignorance of the law (which is obviously no defence in the eyes of the law), and without relevant training one can encounter legal issues in that respect. Copyright is a large issue within Web 2.0, as it’s syndication and networked structure is stretching fair use and fair dealings laws to their limit. It would be beneﬁcial for the quality of content online for there to be some sort of knowledge with basic journalism practice. It may be a wise idea for some association to provide accreditation to trained individuals, so that individuals could take short course on copyright, libel, research and the like. Unfortunately this is unlikeely as it would have to be an organisation with some prestige in the ﬁeld of journalism already, and the quiet conﬂict between citizen and traditional journalism would prevent this happening.
Moore’s Law Brings Technology into the Masses Hands
The technology that is required to create an online news site may seem basic to us now, but these technologies have only recently come within the reach of the every man. Items such as personal computers may have been available for some time, but the emergence of internet connections is the driving force here. Digital cameras are another tool that have become incredibly cheap, and enable us to all own one - few of us don’t carry one everyday on our mobile phones. This means that wherever there are people, there are potential photographers, for example the 7/7 london bombings. It is now possible to purchase a laptop with wireless internet capabilities, a digital camera and a mobile phone for far less than a thousand pounds. Armed with these tools one can create and upload digital content to a website, and eﬀectively run your own news source. This kind of capability, for this cost, is something that is relatively recent, and it’s eﬀect on citizen journalism is only now becoming clear. The main innovation is mobile, real time coverage. Real time coverage of events has now become truly within our reach. At a large press event or conference it used to be the case that hordes of journalists would be furiously scribbling away on paper, and at the end of the speech a huge rush of hacks would run towards pay-phones to phone in their story to the oﬃce, from here it would be edited, and eventually make it’s way into publication. If photos were involved then the process would include even more steps, and far more time. With technology such as digital cameras, wireless internet and long battery life laptops people can carry everything that they need in one bag to perform all roles of a newspaper in one. I run a technology news web-log, and regularly report on conferences and the like in real time, utilising the now standard WiFi connection at these events. I can write notes as I watch the event, periodically updating the text in chunks so that news comes in part by part, and readers can be aware of the content before it has even ﬁnished. I can also take photographs (and increasingly video and audio), and upload those at the same time. My readers can comment on this story as it progresses, adding value to my text by suggesting additional reading, adding their own opinion or insight. Dan Gillmor explains the ﬁrst example of this form of journalism, where he was covering  4.3.1 The Internet Revolution
The Internet truly was a revolution for independent journalism, never before could information be broadcast to so many, so cheaply. The story of how this invention changed the dissemination of information has almost become a cliche, and it’s importance is often overlooked, especially by the generation now at university who don’t remember a time before the Internet. However, it cannot be stressed enough how much it has changed the landscape of available information, and the speed with which we have access to that information. It spawned a whole new branch of media, just as the invention of the printing press led to newspapers and the television broadcast system led to a range of video format programs. Just like these previous technologies, it has gone though much change since it’s inception. In the context of journalism at least, it is easiest to think of it as being separated into two distinct ages. Web 1.0 The Internet, at ﬁrst, was used to create static pages where the content was constant except when updated by the owner. This meant that news sites were quite diﬃcult to run and maintain. However the medium oﬀered enormous possibilities, and enabled sites to reach a worldwide audience with relatively little ﬁnancial outlay. Sites could become updated endless times a day, to react to events as soon as possible. This obviously meant that those with an internet connection were able to read the news as and when they had time, but could access the very latest information, rather than buying a newspaper on the way to work and reading it at lunch where one would be 4
digesting news up to 12 hours old. Web 2.0 More of a concept, and a group of individually ordinary technologies, than a revolutionary leap forward. It has taken the capabilities of the Internet, and reﬁned them into a far more dynamic structure that is more conducive to sharing information between sites. This conceptual infrastructure is the steam powered printing presses to the Internet’s wood carved presses, but just as the printing press never made Gutenberg a rich man, the programmers who created the open source applications that web 2.0 are based upon will never make money from it.  Web 2.0 includes technologies like RSS, which are XML ﬁles containing articles and metadata, which enable the syndication of websites, and the aggregation of many sites content into one place. This enables readers to custom make sites from their favorite content, eﬀectively creating a unique collection of regular information for their digestion. In this way the readers are given the power to create their own organizations, tailor made to focus on their locality, interests and concerns. No ordinary publication, no matter how niche, could service a user so intimately. In this way, web 2.0 has enabled users to gather existing information and read it on their own terms, but it also allows the creation of new material that would have been impossible before. Web 2.0 websites that provide functionality of some sort almost always oﬀer an API, which enables users to create add-ons and increase the value of the site. This also means that two or more sites APIs can be connected to create brand new content from seemingly ordinary content. One good example is the ’mash-up’ between Google maps and police maintained crime statistics, Chicago Crime.  This example takes the crime information, and maps it onto Google maps, this can enable readers to do many powerful things that wouldn’t have been possible before, for example people could subscribe to a feed of information on crime in their area, or those looking for accommodation could view a map of the area with markers pinpointing diﬀerent types of crime, in order to assess whether or not they should live there. It is this kind of interaction that makes up the concept of Web 2.0, small technologies like RSS enabling the generation and organization of content that was impossible before, and this is empowering readers like never before. Just as the Internet gave people the ability to view news as and when they wanted it, Web 2.0 is letting people choose how that information is put together as well. In this sense, people are involved in the information’s creation as well as it’s use, this goes further with other sites, like Wikipedia where the entire content of the site is created by it’s users, on a voluntary basis.  Wikipedia, is an online collaborative encyclopedia, who in the true spirit of web 2.0 do not necessarily have to have had journalistic experience. This would alert anyone used to research, and would be an alarming thought, but because of the innovative review structure articles tend to ﬁnd an equilibrium and settle into a relatively accurate state.  The ﬂexible nature of this medium allows it to move incredibly quickly, reacting to changes and updates in the story faster than traditional journalism ever could. The case of the terrorist attacks on London in July 2005 are a prime example, the explosions occurred at 8.50AM on the London underground, and Wikipedia had a page created on the event by 9.18AM on the same day. That is 28 minutes between a huge catastrophic event, and that event being recorded in an encyclopedia. The facts of the event changed incredibly quickly throughout the day, and the record of edits of that page reﬂect how quickly this was recorded in the online entry. By 5.57PM that site had been edited 2800 times, and this constant editing and voting system for controversial entries enabled it to reach an equilibrium and logical layout.
The emergence of cheap digital cameras has also changed the Internet greatly. In the early days of the web most photos were taken with an analogue camera, the ﬁlm processed, and the photograph scanned. Due to bandwidth limitaitions (which are all but gone now) the photographs would also be lowered to a very grainy resolution before being uploaded to reduce their ﬁlesize. This process took several hours, even in the most eﬃcient and hurried system. The landscape is very diﬀerent now though, with digital cameras being so cheaop that they are bundled as an extra on virtually every new mobile phone sold today. With digital cameras it is possible to upload images, and place them on the Internet in a matter of seconds. With mobile phone devices it is possible to send them automatically to a website, in a process called MoBlogging, text can also be included, allowing a small handeld device to create news content. Scoopt is a website that enables users to create accounts, and upload photos that they deem newsworthy which have been taken either on a digital camera or mobile phone. The site will then attempt to ﬁnd a commercial outlet willing to buy these images. These users do not have to have any previous media or photography experience whatsoever, but have been given the capability to earn money from their content.  Flickr is another site, which does not provide income, but a way of uploading and archiving images for viewing. The site encourages the use of metadata in the use of keyword tags in order to allow some very eﬃcient and powerful searching. One can subscribe to an RSS feed of a tag, or combination of tags, for example ’Norwich’ and ’university’ would give you a stream of images taken at the University of East Anglia by users of the site. In this way, the Internet (in the case of Scoopt, Web 1.0, Flickr, Web 2.0) and cheap digital camera have changed the face of photojournalism.  Digital cameras have allowed images of events to be quickly uploaded to the Internet, and sites such as Scoopt and Flickr have enabled those images to be found and viewed by the masses instantly. The July 2005 London bombings are a prime example, where photos of the tube carriages were on Flickr within minutes, and had been seen by tens of thousands of people within an hour.  The BBC has begun to embrace citizen photo journalism, encouraging people to send in mobile phone images of breaking stories, the most recent example being the Hampstead Heath Depot explosion. 
What Really Drives Journalism?
Although there are examples of individuals, and even organizations whose main aim in producing media is to inform and enlighten the public, for example the Washington Post, whose mission statement is to put service to the public before proﬁt, the overwhelming drive is usually proﬁt.  It was always the case previously that traditional journalism was the only way to make money inwriting news, and that the early adopters of citizen journalism, both website owners and, previous to the Internet, the photocopied newsletter manufacturers etc. could only hope to break even at best. This has now changed, and it is possible for sites with only a small readership to turn a proﬁt. In order to hypothesize about what direction journalism will take, it is vital to understand the current environment, and the motivation for writing journalism. The driving force for journalism as a whole changes only very slowly, but the technological driving forces change very quickly, and enable new innovations to take place. What readers want from an article is the main determining factor in what people will be urged to write, but an innovation such as free publishing will also drive people to create more content.
What Do Readers Want From Journalism?
The main requirement in journalism hasn’t changed from the very ﬁrst information sheets to today’s blogs; the need for quality and objectivity. Journalism should be well written and thorough, but the need for accuracy is extremely important, and an unbiased approach is essential. Because of constant mergers and acquisitions between media organisations objectivity is becoming harder and harder to achieve, it is a common ethical issue now encountered that the reporter works for the same organisation as those involved in the story. It is at times like this that citizen journalism can become very important, a completely independent voice on a subject can be refreshing. Another requirement from journalism in recent times, is conciseness. People’s attention span is waning, and news has become more summarised over time. This has led to accusations of ’dumbing down’ and a lack of diversity in the range of stories. The Internet has also changed people’s expectation of news, in two major ways. The ﬁrst of which is that people expect news to be free, making it hard to generate income with the traditional model, of charging for content. Organizations have been forced to adopt innovative new revenue models, including advertising, and syndication options for third party publications. The second change is that people expect news updates to be instant. Online technologies have fostered an idea of real time reporting, which places constant pressure on news teams to create timely articles like never before. In the printed media there is a daily rush to get news in to that days edition at the last minute, online however, this rush is constant and unnending. 
Online Journalism Becomes Free to Run
It is tremendously important that the pursuit of running an online journalism outlet be able to support itself ﬁnancially, or even make a small proﬁt. It is vital that wealth should not be a determining factor in ones ability to start such a site, in order to maintain the ethos of citizen journalism; that anyone can do it. There are two ways in which one can run an online news site for free, and both have their pros and cons. One is to make use of free tools, which normally come at some cost and don’t look professional, and the other is to take advantage of new revenue streams and fund a site that will hopefully cover it’s own costs. Free tools make running a site completely overhead-free, but may come with some terms that are hard to swallow, for example the site may have to carry adverts that you cannot choose. This means that they won’t necessarily ﬁt with the sites ethos or politics. These tools can also look unprofessional, and be treated as such by readers, who will avoid it, and search engines, whose spiders tend to pass over free blogging tools. Traditionally, the more popular a site using non-free tools becomes, the more expensive it becomes to run it, as overheads are linked to the infrastructure. Advances in micro-payment technology have allowed this to change. The development of micro-payments and other such technologies allow small, bi-directional payments to be easily made online. Visionaries like Google have implemented advertising systems such as AdSense that utilise this, whereby any site can generate advertising revenue without having to constantly chase down customers themselves.
The Current Landscape of Journalism
The Decline of Mainstream Media
Newspaper sales have been in decline ever since the 1950’s, with television news and the merging of newspapers into ever larger publications being blamed. Some also claim that the increase in car ownership has also harmed sales, with people unable to read a paper on the daily commute, as they could before on the train. The merging of newspapers has created a bloated range of publications, many are extremely large, and yet contain no news that is relevant to individual’s interests. ”The massive American modern newspaper is staggering to deliver and read. The LA Times averages 123 daily and 512 pages on sunday... The reader must plow through masses of pages of no interest and, in all probability, ﬁnd no news of his or her own community and then pay, or have the tax supported municipality pay, to haul away the daily remains”  These new mediums such as blogs are causing a downturn in sales of traditional journalism. Coupled with this short term eﬀect are the long term eﬀects of cars, radio and television that has been a trend over the last 50 years. This shows that technology is both the lifeblood of journalism in new forms, and the death of it in old forms. However, whenever a medium has begun to wane there has always been another form of news to take it’s place - people will always need to be kept informed. Despite this trend, not all mainstream media will disappear. For example, some is government funded, such as the BBC, and some is innovative enough to stay around in paper format despite the advantages of new mediums. Niche media will slip through the gaps, due to it’s incredibly small but loyal readership. For example, local newspapers will probably remain, despite the massive advantages of moving to online publishing.
Emergence - The Relentless Rise of Citizen Journalism
The phenomenon that we call citizen journalism will inevitably rise in adoption, it’s increasing power and popularity is something that the public will not be willing to give up. The emergence of blogging has been incredibly fast, and exponential, millions of blogs exist, and that provides a massive range for readers that wasn’t available before. Innovative new examples are launching every day, such as Oh My News in South Korea, which is a paper publication written by amateurs who submit articles to editors for inclusion. [?] What will become apparent though is that bad citizen journalism is as big a problem as bad traditional journalism; poor research and gossip mongering will not be tolerated for long. And not just any blogger will be able to reputably call themselves a journalist. Just because they are using a new and open medium that enables easy access doesn’t mean that they can forgo research and investigation. This will become apparent in a form of natural selection, where the most professional sites will survive, and other will not. This natural selection will be twofold in it’s mechanisms. Firstly if someone is going to ’play’ at being a journalist then they must realise that the repercussions for their actions can be just as serious as those for traditional journalists, legal conﬂicts can aﬀect them also, and this will put libelous sites with no legal insurance out of business quickly. Dan Hunter, legal studies professor at Wharton explains that legal protection for bloggers equal to that of journalists is uncertain; ”it’s hard to say where this will go legally”  The second method that will naturally evolve citizen journalism into a more respectable and reliable form of media, is simple popularity. Once a site or blogger has been proven to post badly
researched articles then the news of this scandal will quickly spread throughout the blogosphere, it is the nature of the beast to be very self referential. Other sites, who may have linked to that article without researching it, will get associated with the scandal, which will have the impact of destroying the readership of badly researched sites. We have already seen this happening on Web 2.0, with the emergence of ’A List’ bloggers whose readership is high, and whose content is reliable and informative.
Technology enabled journalism, and inventions such as the movable type printing press and the steam engine facilitated the widespread adoption of printed news. This trend of technological innovation continued, and facilitated the adoption of new mediums of distribution that became ever cheaper and faster. The innovation eventually led to the Internet, where it became equally cheap for an individual with no experience to set up a site, as it was for a large news organisation to do so. This was an enormous paradigm shift, and many independent news sites sprang up, albeit it with limited ﬁnancial success. With the birth of Web 2.0, hard as it is to deﬁne, methods of distribution became reﬁned to the point where readers could actually merge this information into new and unique streams of knowledge, that may only be of interest to that one person. Coupled with the rise of capability of citizen journalists due to the diminishing cost of laptops etc, enabling them to report from the ﬁeld as traditional journalists have done for hundreds of years this is creating new possibilities. There have also been advances in revenue streams such that citizen journalists can create a site for free, and maybe even turn a proﬁt which has removed the ﬁnancial problems associated with starting such a site. These advances have basically been leading to a breakdown of the barriers to entry for individuals into journalism. This has now reached a point where there is no reason that an individual cannot start a successful site, if he or she has quality content.  Old photocopied newsletters were kept small by technological limitations, but that is no longer the case with blogs, whose limitations are not physical. The blog Boing Boing got 2,787,248 unique readers in January 2006, more than most national UK newspapers.  Dan Hunter, legal studies professor at Wharton believes that ”It’s the rise of amatuer content, which is replacing the centralized, controlled content done by professionals.”  The only barrier to entry into journalism now is talent and intelligence. Therefore the large organisations do not have an advantage over citizen journalists, which will clearly lead to some enormous changes in the media.
Convergence - A Model for the Future
Will citizen journalism make organised journalism obsolete? It’s unlikely, because these organisations still hold assets such as talented writers and experience, as well as a degree of brand loyalty from readers. What will happen is a slow convergence of the two models of journalism, it is already the case that many forward looking traditional publications run a website in parallel to their paper edition. The best of these post the full content of articles, and generate revenue in new and innovative ways. The worst of them however, are no more than a waste of time and eﬀort, confusing and complex sites requiring registration that are avoided at all costs by savvy Internet users. These old media organisations who have moved fast enough, picked up the emerging technologies and embraced the new, speedy writing models such as blogging will survive and become part of the new generation of media, along with the more organised and structured bloggers.
This new amalgam, the new landscape of journalism, will be comprised of the most structured amateurs, and the most ﬂexible professionals. Most journalism will move online, as papers have been in decline for years but some niche publications will remain in slowly dwindling distributions. Media networks comprised of small blogs will emerge, replacing the huge clumsy newspapers, and they will be more niche, servicing readers more intimately. Therefore the structure of an organisation can be more ﬂexible in that it’s list of publications online can be changed quickly, or new publications created instantly as if from thin air by redistributing resources within the network. The downside to this is that the brand of the publication will be less valuable. If a brand new publication is launched that uses the same writers, ideas, desks and computers of an extremely popular publication, then it will still fail to transfer all of it’s readership. The way in which this will be remedied is with the use of these small media networks, providing a familiar logo above the masthead of the network as a whole, that the reader knows it can trust. This is simply a stripping away of abstraction rather than a creation of networks as a brand, as media companies are already mostly owned by large umbrella organisations already, they will simply start to use that as an asset rather than a guilty secret. This model has already started to become apparent in the online community, with blogs being bought up, or simply organised in a cooperative, to form blog networks. These can become extremely popular, and oﬀer the writers of the small sites the expertise of professional web designers, and the income of advertising revenue. Incest in blog networks, and tampering with the source of stories to create more Google juice within the network may be one of the new ethical problems associated with the new model, as insider trading was (and still will be) for ﬁnancial journalism. The success of a network will be linked to the amount of readers and incoming links it has, but when tricks like this are uncovered they will destroy the reputation of that network, in another example of online natural selection. By linking to the true source and providing good content, they will be linked to more, from external sources, and gain in the long run, both in terms of success and ethics. Web 2.0 will be the driving force behind this new model, and it will enable citizen journalists to radically alter the entire media sector. This is more than innovation, and more like a revolution and shift of power. After all the media is an incredibly inﬂuential tool, and this new technology is enabling bloggers to grab a share of that power. The new online journalism will be more ﬂexible than traditional journalism, yet more structured than citizen journalism as it exists today. It will oﬀer exciting new features that cannot even be thought of currently, by utilising Web 2.0 and APIs. Content will always be the most important aspect, and with increased numbers of people taking part in the creation of articles, and the improved transparency of sources that the web oﬀers, the quality of journalism can only improve. Anyone, despite their background will be enabled to have their voice heard, and that is all thanks to innovation and technology.
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