When You Choose the Wrong Major

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Here’s Britney Spears, politely informing every one of their roles as citizen journalists (really, not really). Okay, even though she isn’t actually saying that, if she was, she’d be right.

The rise of technology, and social media at that, means we are constantly remaining connected. TO our phones, to each other, to what is happening around us. We are in a constant state of both consuming, but also producing. The emerging of this media threatens the journalism profession and more importantly, the traditional way of delivering news to the public. Journalism is a profession in crisis (so glad I chose to major in it…).

See, traditional news, which here I will refer to as ‘legacy media’, has almost every element of itself being endangered. Think of newspapers, the news was packaged for us, we has to buy this “package” in order to consume said news (so we trust this one and only news source), and then advertisers are more or less required to buy into the advertising space which was exclusive and limited to newspapers. If you compare every part of this chain of events, the rise of modern-day media and citizen journalism is the causation of the destruction of legacy media. Personally, I feel they cannot concurrently thrive to their full potential; one of them must give way.

The current best way to meet supply and demand, is through the internet. A vast amount of the world’s population is exposed to and interacts with the internet. Key word here; interacts.

See, that’s what threatens the legitimacy of what we consume today. With everyone being able to add their 2 cents into every occurrence, where is the filter? How can we possibly begin to determine what is valid, what is opinion, what is even real? Okay for what is real, I’ll address that in a later post.

But as for citizen journalism, i.e. public interaction, it is not the legitimacy of the actual news that is being threatened, but instead, how this news is then presented, and furthermore how this news is re-presented as it passes through each individual. Individuals may film, comment, photograph, their own interpretation of a situation and the internet’s ability to spread this virally means stories are published and shared by literally ANYONE. Not that this is wrong, but in saying that, the whole point is to leave the journalism up to the journalists right?

I’m totally all for news and stories coming from the raw source, but this lacks professionalism, this lacks a whole other side of the story too, in most cases, this may usually lack some fact. I mean, imagine if we didn’t check childcare workers. Literally anyone would just mind our kids; how unrealistic and preposterous is that idea! Yet, with citizen journalism, we’re consuming anything we see as news, from literally anyone.

So really, I don’t know my stance on this phenomenon in the end. I do value real journalism (possibly because it’ll be my career and I need a job at some point) but in saying that, I do like being able to hear the story from the source, unpolished. I like that we can all comment in real-time, and contribute to what we deem fit. But please hold sacred real, professional journalism; and keep my industry alive.

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The Wooden Wheel

Digital making and craft captures a creative process. This process has evolved over many years to lead us to the digital age we have today.

Originally, before industrial culture, everything was made by hand. Almost impossible for us to imagine these days, when we have almost everything at our fingertips. Production was artisanal, there was not usually a direct correlation between what could be imagined and what could be created.

Fast forward to industrial culture, which still held sharp boundaries between conception and production. This often involved an assembly line, and the mass production of objects.  Most likely, your parents grew up in this era; the one that came before the internet.

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Unimaginable to us, Millennials/Gen Y, is a time where the internet was non-existent. I mean, sure, we lived through dial-up internet where you had to make sure no one was using the home phone. And sure, we “suffered” through the time when smart phones didn’t exist and mobile phones were simply for calling, texting, and to play ‘bounce‘. But what about before any of this existed. Could you imagine not being able to contact someone unless via letter, or on the home phone?

However, impossible that may be, the real point of this post is to focus on the craft, and the digital making process that has simplified it for us. Digitalisation has dissolved the boundaries between what we can imagine and what we can actually create. Production is determined by the logical of mass customisation. We are no longer worried about ‘one size fits all’, but more, ‘one size that can be easily adapted to properly account for everyone individually’.

Without touching on too many distinct and difficult terms, present day digital aesthetics focus on a few main elements.

Rapid prototyping, think about making a truck load of memes and posting the two best. Digital allows for the constant ability to create many versions before the final one.

Experimentation, that is, you are able to create whatever you like, in whatever way you please. You can fail numerous times before you succeed.

Error discovery, you can make mistakes many times over, before you reach the conclusion of how you will create something, and what you will create!

Modification leading to unexpected outcomes, this is almost like adaptability, your openness to constantly be changing and modifying your product or creation. Often, you will go or end up in a direction you did not imagine you would be.

All in all, the digital age has opened up various doors for creativity. But more than that, it has allowed us the ability to actually have the ability to follow through and physically  create what we have imagined. Money is not so much a barrier anymore, the failure of an online meme will not set us financially back, our attempts at making a YouTube account will not leave us too out-of-pocket. Failure does not hold the ramifications it once did.

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This is important, our ability to constantly portray messages and information in unique ways, means individuals are more empowered. Information is consumed in ways, often without the consumer realising just how much of an effect it has on them. We can even recreate something that already exists, and remediate it into something entirely new; all within our digital devices. We hold immense power at our fingertips (literally), and can only hope to utilise this in ways not done before.

So, what are you waiting for? Go create, prototype, fail and succeed!

The Medium is the Message

I used to be told to be careful with my words, as once they are out, they cannot be taken back. Apparently now, I too have to be careful about HOW I convey my words.

The medium is the message basically encompasses the idea that how something is being delivered, is just as important as what is delivered. Any extension of ourselves can be a medium, think chair, hands, shoes, rooms. They affect how we receive or how others receive messages. Sounds a bit complex doesn’t it?

“Think of a cinema”. They use the medium of lights. By eliminating them, turning them off, they allow us to receive the movie differently. Imagine receiving a horror film in broad daylight, not so scary anymore is it? By simply altering a medium, the message is now different. Think of how often arguments over text message or Facebook inbox, are generated from nothing at all. The same message said face to face, will be conveyed and received differently. The medium is altering the message.

Trajectories of convergence have caused and are causing rapid changes in mediums. We certainly live very differently to our grandparents. This “change in our societal or cultural grounds conditions indicated the presence of a new message, that is, the effects of a new medium.” (as mentioned by Ted in the Lecture, Week 3)

Even the simple comparison of print news, to now online news, is astounding. Now, we can comment directly on the story as it is released. We may even debate with others about the same topic, in real-time. Now, to consume news, you may even be illiterate, and can simply listen to interact and consume. This new medium has changed the scale of the message, as well as the way we interact and behave with it.

Due to these advancements, there are many forms of media which are now dead. Floppy disks, videos, and cassettes are some examples. In order to survive with our constant change of mediums, they must mutate to survive. A modern-day form of music production, is as a Disk Jockey (DJ). However, they are simply using a mutated version of the vinyl record. The possibility to do so was due to the ability of the vinyl to be manipulated to any part of the record, it was not created to do so; but its ability to do so it was helped it survive the changing mediums.

 

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Here is the first gif I’ve every created. It was quite interesting to play around with the generator, and overall I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. I think that it would be reasonably effective as it is a widely known gif and has minimal text. Obviously, the text is straight from the content I have discussed this week. I would’ve liked the text to be smaller, or split into the top and bottom of the picture, but I was unable to do this. With more practice and use of the gif generator, I hope to improve these aspects.

 

Chat Apps as Media Outlets

Contemporary society is constantly changing. Media sources must recognise this in order to maintain a far reach and widespread audience. Recent trends have seen online user popularity venture towards Chat apps, a change from previous successes of social media alone. These apps include Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, along with other similar apps such as WeChat which took off in countries like Japan and took the audience before the more recent apps could (Evans, 2015 p.67).

The podcast in this link endeavours to describe the change of journalistic practices:

#197 – Solutions journalism: Recipe for engaging local communities

In regard to news, it is the adaptation to “go where your audience is” (Evans, 2015 p.68) which has seen the shift of news outlets using chat apps to reach audiences. These platforms however, are more useful for local news and smaller, contained audiences. It is difficult to handle more than 1,000 odd users in a chat room scenario, and this does prove as a limitation. Those hoping to harness tens of thousands of users may have trouble with resourcing this. But for smaller media sources, a niche group of loyal users attributes to success.

The Ebola WhatsApp project is a prime example of the success of such an endeavour. The BBC were able to distribute information to 20,000 subscribers, many of which were from West Africa. Despite the staggering numbers, they were able to contain this and inform individuals of the latest public health concerns within their regions. Aside from this, it also allowed users to pass on information they had, to the news corporation.

This two way relationship harnesses the idea of everyday individuals as journalists. Not only are we consuming the news, we are creating and contributing to it. It is an easier way for members of the public to share minor bits of information that may contribute in major ways to a story. A limitation of this is that the validity of the information should be confirmed before being widespread shared.

Snapchat’s launch of the “Discover” feature saw widespread success in January 2015 (Lichterman, 2015).  This was short lived and lasted 3 months before a decline in interest (Evans, 2015 p71). Since, it has become more accessible and visible, being viewed on the home page.

However news by the people and for the people is proving quite popular. Another feature of Snapchat, “Live Stories”, has taken off and continued to. It enables users within a certain vicinity to contribute to breaking stories or widely covered events. These include the American Election lead up and result, and ANZAC Day. Individuals may contribute to the coverage of these events if Snapchat approves so(Lichterman, 2015). Although this is an unconventional and sometimes colloquial way of providing information, it does inform the public to an extent.

Santiago Tarditi, an international editor at Fusion (one of the companies that features on Snapchat Discover), believes that “what this has taught us is that our content no longer has to be fed in the traditional way.” We see that news consumption is often easier when it is available on Apps which are already part of our daily routine. We are not seeking the news, it is coming to where we are. This many be difficult for a journalist to have to learn and relearn, but in order to gain, engage, and keep their audiences this is an important innovation.

 

Bibliography

Posetti, J., Lu, A., Evans, J., Cherubini, F., Waldhorn, A., McHugh, S. and Veseling, B. (2015). Trends in Newsrooms. 1st ed. Frankfurt: WAN-IFRA, pp.67-76.

Lichterman, J. (2015). Snapchat stories: Here’s how 6 news orgs are thinking about the chat app. [online] Nieman Lab. Available at: http://www.niemanlab.org/2015/02/snapchat-stories-heres-how-6-news-orgs-are-thinking-about-the-chat-app/ [Accessed 12 Nov. 2016].

Why am I here?

Traditionally a philosophical question, posed to awaken ones inner theorist. I ask myself this question, moreover I pose to you, whoever is reading this, what brought me here. This blog post begins my venture on a path in which I can only hope to practice and begin in a field in which I am majorly passionate about.

Right now, the reason this exact post is being written, is because it’s due tonight. And the reason I have a blog post due tonight is because I’m studying a double degree, Bachelor of Communication and Media Studies/Bachelor of International Studies, at the University of Wollongong.

I guess the real question and real answer I want to put forward is, why have I chosen this?

Every now and then I stumble across a book I’ve filled with words, ideas from within my mind. I’ve found books from when I was 7, covered in fairies and with the “e”‘s written backwards. I’ve got pages of words from when I was 9 and Steve Irwin passed away, the paper portraying emotions of a school girl struck with shock. And I have diaries from my high school years talking of rumours (who’s dating who!), the latest gossip, of boyfriends and boys, and everything else my teen years encompassed. Perfectly on queue mum just yells from the kitchen (with the knowledge of me writing this post) “Naomi, you’re a writer through and through”. I guess that pretty much sums it up.

The beauty, I think, of words, is not just the expression. It’s not the ability of how one may portray an event, or how utterly different individuals will use a broad range of vocabulary to express the same idea.

My favourite aspect of writing, of language and of words is that they can capture a moment. That in writing words you capture exact emotions from a single moment in time, feelings you may revisit should you simply open the book (or blog in this case).

So here I begin, a timeline of posts. Moments and events that I and you alike may revisit, recapture and experience all over again. By tomorrow, I’ll feel differently, by next post I’ll feel differently, and by this exact date next year, I will also feel differently. Maybe I’ll look back at this moment and remember it in a varied way. But here is my evidence, here is me clicking the lens and capturing a snapshot of right now. That is the beauty of words and that is the reason I am here.