The contemporary digital mediascape is one which is undergoing drastic transformation. The traditional foundations of the media and news industry are being revolutionised by improved technological capacities which have seen the established roles of producer and audience being challenged. The way in which news content is constructed, conveyed, consumed and construed has been fundamentally transformed through the collapse of old school distinctions relating to media reporter and audience. What has emerged is a hybrid media environment in which the traditionalist notions of journalist and journalism have been rendered somewhat archaic, allowing for alternative access to the media platforms by previously passive audiences. The passivity of media audiences has dissolved as a cultural shift has seen the emergence of a participatory media culture. That is; a conception whereby media content is influenced by, inclusive of, or of absolute user-generated nature. Thus has emerged a media climate epitomized by a multiplicity of perspectives, two-way communication, and interactivity. It is argued that this newly achieved access to global audiences through digital media has resulted in social pluralism and an improved democratic state through achievements in equality and accessibility. Some however, question the future of journalistic integrity, as the previously privileged position held by media commentator has been stripped in essence. This raises further question as to the validity of opinion or thought relative to the origin of its information. Is the newsworthiness or credibility of a story told by a citizen journalist restricted by the relative anonymity of its producer? Will this voice even be heard amongst the clutter of ‘news’ on digital media platforms? Arguably there is a sufficient role for participatory journalism in the new-age media context. Through the active cooperation of news institutions and citizen journalists, great value can be added to the quantity and quality of available news. As such, the rise of participatory journalism does not mean the role of the traditional journalist has become obsolete. Instead, as noted by Jenkins “delivery technologies become obsolete and get replaced; media, on the other hand, evolve” (2006, p13).
Jenkins, H 2006, Convergence Culture, Where old and New Media Collide, New York University Press, New York.
Quandt, T 2011, ‘Understanding a new phenomenon: the significance of participatory journalism’, Participatory Journalism, Wiley Blackwell, pp155-176