Journalism Today Review

In my last post, I discussed journalism today with a significant reference to citizen journalism, and my view of the lack of credibility and verifiability with citizen journalism. Since then, I have given further thought to this issue. Little Fish commented: “it’s hard to control the authenticity of every piece of information on the Internet, but, if nobody does anything about it, we might destroy the future of citizen journalism until no one believe anything from the Internet.” I think that Little Fish raises a very good point. If we continue to lack seeking credibility and verifiability in citizen journalism, we will completely destroy the future of citizen journalism, and any of the progress we have already made in this issue. We do need to find new ways to be able to verify the information that is obtained from citizen journalism. Little Fish suggests that we start from our social networks, and I definitely agree that this is a great starting place considering how much time we spend on social networks. This brings forth the question of how this can be achieved. Although I cannot give a definite answer, I can suggest one way. In my COMM2F00 course, we are always told to reference our work. I think that Facebook and Twitter should integrate an easy method of some sort that would allow users to reference or cross-connect from the source that they obtained the information from in the first place. This is already somewhat evident as Facebook or Twitter users can tag users in their posts. I do think, however, that Facebook or Twitter could probably simplify or encourage this process more.

 In my previous post, I also wrote that in many ways you and I are very involved in citizen journalism even though we may not realize it. KK commented: “We all are journalists in our everyday life! Facebook is an excellent example where we post, like, share photos, videos and news of our lives.” Since we are actively involved in citizen journalism, even though we may not want to admit it, we have definite control of how citizen journalism plays itself out. If we try to add credibility to our everyday posts, then perhaps all users will soon be able to believe in citizen journalism more. We may not have a convenient way of doing this, but we should act in the good faith of helping develop citizen journalism. Taking the time to tag where we got the information from will help add a lot of verifiability and credibility to citizen journalism. In the case of citizen journalism, we the citizen journalists must be the change we want to see. 

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Journalism Today

When you think of journalism today, what comes to your mind? Is it the travelling reporter who seeks to find the “truth”? Is it the person in Egypt using social media to gain support? Or, is it yourself that you see? Many would answer the question by stating it was themselves that they saw as journalism, which proves just how much the world has changed in the last couple of decades. The emergence of new social media opportunities has encouraged a wealth of participation in citizen journalism. Dictionary.com defines journalism as “the occupation of reporting, writing, editing, photographing, or broadcasting news”. How many examples can you think of where social media has supported that definition of journalism? Is it not true that we have many different platforms that allow us to report, write and then edit, post photos, or even broadcast audio or video files? Is it not true that hypothetically speaking you or I could create our own broadcast studio from our basements? The answer to all of these questions is yes. Hypothetically speaking, all of those scenarios are possible. These possibilities have enabled the term citizen journalism, where nonprofessionals, such as you and I, can report, write, edit, photograph and even broadcast just like the professionals.  Social media has enabled this possibility for all of us.  This was not always the case. According to Bruns and Highfield’s article Blogs, Twitter, and breaking news: The produsage of citizen journalism, “digital environments have changed substantially since the emergence of the first online citizen journalism projects in the late 1990s” (2012, p.20).  Social Media has truly risen in the last couple of years to allow us to be efficient and effective in citizen journalism. Several different platforms such blogging websites, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter have allowed us to instantly share every aspect that we encounter. In particular, I would like to point out Twitter and its unbelievably rapid way of spreading news. According to Hermida’s article TWEETS AND TRUTH: Journalism as a discipline of collaborative verification, “Twitter is affecting the way news is gathered, disseminated, and consumed” (2012, p.660) and I could not agree more with this statement. I still remember May 2nd 2011, the day that Osama bin Laden, one of the world’s most wanted men, was captured and killed. Surprisingly, I found out through Twitter and my first reaction was “it cannot be true, it is most likely a rumor”. I find it rather humorous that this would be my initial reaction. I now ask myself whether my reaction would have been different if I saw those news through some other more reliable medium, and my answer is that I would have definitely believed in it more. This brings forth Hermida’s view that “the development of Twitter as a channel for breaking news and the use of material from the public in professionally edited publications poses a dilemma for a profession based on a discipline of verification” (2012, p.663). Verification of news is one of Twitter’s largest challenges especially due its sheer volume of Tweets. To repost or even favorite a Tweet is simple by pressing only one button. Furthermore, the website has no means for users to report incorrect news. This encourages the spread of incorrect news. Twitter’s simplistic approach to its interface is the website’s largest issue in terms of verification. Although this is evident in many other social media websites, in my opinion it is the most evident through Twitter. I also fear that perhaps characteristics such as this may impede on the growth of citizen journalism.

References:

Bruns, A. & T. Highfield. (2012). Blogs, Twitter, and breaking news: The produsage of citizen journalism. pre-publication draft on personal site [Snurb.info]. Published in: Lind, R. A. ed. (2012). Produsing Theory in a Digital World: The Intersection of Audiences and Production. New York: Peter Lang. p15-32.

Hermida, A. (2012). TWEETS AND TRUTH: Journalism as a discipline of collaborative verification. Journalism Practice. 6:5-6, p659-668.

Rethinking Sweatshop Economics!

I chose the Bangladesh Rana Factory Collapse as the topic for this week’s podcast, because, when this course originally started, what inspired me to choose the topic of Economic Development in Developing and Third World Countries was the collapse of this factory. I think that, in order for economic development to occur and thrive in developing and third world countries, it is extremely important that workers’ rights are respected. The issue with workers’ rights being respected is somewhat hard to enforce in developing and third world countries, because usually corruption and greed force workers’ rights to be placed at the bottom of a country’s priorities. For this reason, I believe that we, the citizens of developed countries, need to ensure that there is someone watching over these people. We need to ensure that the workers, that produce the goods that we use, have basic workers’ rights just like the workers in our own country. This podcast is based on CBC’s article Fast Fashion, Western Retailers, & The Bangladesh Building Collapse, which was published April 25th 2013. I hope that everyone enjoys the topic and is inspired to foster a culture of change…

Please click here to listen to the Podcast!

References:

CBC News. (2013, April 25). Fast Fashion, Western Retailers, & The Bangladesh Building     Collapse. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/strombo/social-issues/fast-fashion-cheap-clothes-the-bangladesh-building-collapse.html

Music, Culture, and Copyright: Reflection!

History has taught us numberous times that people revolt to ideas that they do not support. This lack of support for an issue has caused several revolutions or has caused several prohibitions to be ineffective. Larry Lessig, in his 2007 TED Talk, explained that copyright and piracy have become an ineffective form of prohibition. He basically explained that all of these laws, regulations, and policies do not mean much to consumers. As I previously blogged, I definitely agree with this view and see why this seems to be the case. Think about how many people engage in copyright violations or even piracy, and then ask yourself how many of these people faced true consequences for these actions? Not many, I bet. Furthermore, ask yourself if more people had to face the true consequences, how big of a strain would that put on our legal system? Thinking about this issue on a larger scale allows us to see that a solution to this issue is almost impossible.

Little Fish expressed that a proper legal frame that supports artists’ and consumers’ needs is needed. My question to that is how can we balance profits on one side, and consumers’ needs to be creative on the other? Where do we draw an acceptable line? Our government feels an obligation to protect the industry, as it helps the government generate revenue. Society feels an obligation to protect consumers, in order to incourage creativity and culture to flourish. To encourage creativity and culture to flourish means to diminish revenue to be generated, or does it? Is there a way to merge two opposite ideas to co-exist? 

Lifeofascanner agreed with my view that upping prices on subscriptions will just encourage more people into piracy and copyright infringement. Therefore, trying to increase revenue from the few people that actually still purchase content, is not the solution. Lifeofascanner also commented that “the artists that provide free downloads on iTunes have accepted that people download music illegally, and this is their way of controlling it. [They] hope that by giving a free [download], [consumers] will [be] encouraged to [purchase] their next songs”.  Little Fish further expressed: I just hate those music producers who cannot accept any kind of remix [to] their work. They [do not] allow anyone [to] touch their work unless [they receive a] cheque. They [can only] be called businessmen [and] not artists because [the] only thing they can see is money [and] not [the]  great way of creation and transmission”. KK commented that “more effort needs to be directed to find an alternative approach to compensating the true creators and marketers”. KK further commented that “regulators should observe and study the Japanese anime [industry]”, an industry that has found more effective ways for compensation. These comments suggest that perhaps artists need to embrace this new technology and  become more open to creation.  Being more open to creation could also have further benefits for artists, such as enabling them to find more talent or new ideas for their own work. On the other side of the debate, I also believe that consumers need to change their mindset about this issue. We live in an age where we somehow have a great deal of entitlement, and we need to understand that these artists, and the people who help them, deserve fair compensation for their creative work. Overall, although a solution to this issue will be difficult to find, I do believe that it will be easier to find it once both consumers and artists have a mindset of compromise and fairness.

References:

Larry Lessig: Laws that choke creativity. TED Talks (2007). Filmed March 2007, posted November 2007. 

Music, Culture, and Copyright

This week we studied the topic of culture and copyright legislation on the music industry.  I always find the issues of copyright and piracy to be rather complex, and I find that for the most part people do not seem to have the right understanding about it. Think about the many people that you know, and then think about how many of them would know the true characteristics of copyright or piracy. Although I do not agree that ignorance is bliss, I think the lack of knowledge about copyright and piracy is part of the overall issue.

 For most of history, civilization only had to worry about one dimension of copyright and piracy, but in today’s modern age we are also confronted with the digital dimension. According to Steinmetz and Tunnell, “digital piracy is a type of copyright infringement—[which] is a global phenomenon that allegedly contains grave economic consequences for intellectual property industries” (2013, p.53). I definitely agree with this view. It has become a global phenomenon mostly due to the widespread reach of Internet, and intellectual property industries are really concerned about both current economic consequences and future ones. However, we cannot simply only concern ourselves with the affects on intellectual property industries, we must also concern ourselves with the affects on society and our overall culture. Digital technology is here to stay therefore; we must find a solution that appeals to both sides of the issue.

Before we can find a solution, we must first understand why our culture engages in piracy and copyright infringement. In the study “Under the Pixelated Jolly Roger: A Study of On-Line Pirates”, Steinmetz and Tunnell found several different motivators for piracy. They argue that the following reasons motivate piracy: “a desire to share digital cultural artifacts with each other, to sample content before making a purchase, an inability to afford digital content and a desire to circumvent or undermine copyright law and the digital content industry” (2013, p. 65). I agree that all of these reasons are possibilities as to why people engage in piracy. I would, however, add the facts that the consequences to engaging in piracy, although they exist, are rarely ever exercised on regular people, and the fact that engaging in piracy is so readily available, as further motivators to engage in it.

On the other side of the argument is the intellectual property industry. Although I see the affects that digital piracy and copyright infringement has had on the industry, in some ways I believe that the industry is too strict. The lawsuit that the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) launched against its own customer for suspicion of sharing copyright music files online (Condry, 2004, p. 343) is a great example of just how strict the industry is trying to be.  Many believe that the way to overcome file sharing is to find a way to compensate for lost profits.

In his article “Cultures of Music Piracy: An Ethnographic Comparison of the US and Japan”, Condry suggests that fees should be charged on hard drives, blank CDs, and broadband Internet connections (2004, p. 345). I disagree with this view because there are many people that purchase these products without intent to engage in file sharing.  It would be unfair to punish everyone for the mistakes of few. In another article by McCourt and Burkart “When Creators, Corporations and Consumers Collide: Napster and the Development of On-line Music Distribution”, the authors argue that subscription prices should be increased to compensate for lost sales (2003, p. 344). I also disagree with this view because one of the motivators for piracy is an inability to afford digital content therefore; this solution may only encourage piracy more.

 Overall, I agree with Larry Lessig’s view that he expressed during a TED Talk back in 2007. Larry states that we almost live in an age of prohibition where consumers quite frankly do not even care about the rules anymore. Because of the many rules, laws, and regulations with copyright, people can simply not even keep up anymore. Furthermore, I believe that if there were more rules, law, and regulations for copyright our courts would not be able to keep up with it anymore either. I think that the best solution to this problem is to allow some copyright infringement and piracy as long as the person does not profit from it. If they do profit from it, they should compensate the original owner of the work. Furthermore, stopping or even regulating file sharing would be almost impossible due to the many ways of file sharing available to us. It would probably cost us more, as a society, to regulate it than it is for it to be available to us.

References

Condry, Ian. (2004). Cultures of Music Piracy: An Ethnographic Comparison of the US and JapanInternational Journal of Cultural Studies. 7 (3), pg. 343-363

Larry Lessig: Laws that choke creativity. TED Talks (2007). Filmed March 2007, posted November 2007. 

McCourt, T., P. Burkart. (2003). When Creators, Corporations and Consumers Collide: Napster and the Development of On-line Music DistributionMedia, Culture & Society. 25 (3), pg. 333-350 

Steinmetz, K., K. Tunnell (2013). Under the Pixelated Jolly Roger: A Study of On-Line PiratesDeviant Behavior. 34 (1), pg. 53-67

Does Creation Require Influence? Part II

Reading everyone’s blog posts and blog comments, I was amazed at the array of different opinions and thoughts. In my previous blog post, I questioned the idea of “creativity” and what we actually consider as “new”.  All week, this thought kept crossing my mind. I cannot describe how many examples I thought of that confirmed that our idea of “new” is not really that “new”. I was glad that others in my group shared the same beliefs as me. Little Fish commented that we should consider something as new, if the inspiration is taken from a different category than that new thing. Although I agree with Little Fish, I wonder, if such a definition of new was to be implemented, how many objects will we be able to describe as “new”? I think that society is not taught to be creative; in order words, we are taught to color within the lines and to never go outside of them. This may be what is creating this problem in the first place. Kkuhl2013 claimed that “it is so true that we, consciously or subconsciously, gather comparison data before striking off on our own”.  Is this because we were born this way, or is this due to the fact that we have been taught to be like this? I ask that everyone really think about his or her answer to this question, as it is not as straightforward as we think. In today’s age we are consistently asked to collaborate, share, and transform. Perhaps those consistent instructions have affected our ability to think on our own.

My other group members had some very interesting views on online shopping and social media. Lifeofascanner and ap09ti both discussed some of the benefits and dangers of online shopping. I think that online shopping is great, and I acknowledge that there are threats to online shopping, however, my view is that nothing can really replace the experience of shopping directly at a store. For some online shopping is convenient, for others it can be quite a frustrating experience. Having to potentially deal with returns, fraud, and deceiving pictures is enough of a risk for me to prefer shopping at a brick and mortar store. Technology is changing, and with that online shopping will improve as well. As online shopping improves, more people will likely begin to adapt to it quicker, and perhaps then my confidence in it will improve as well.

In terms of the question, of whether we produce content or consume content, most of us claimed to consume content more. Kkuhl2013 claimed to not produce content for the following reasons: “ time, lack of creativity, and not wanting to splash myself in the public domain”.  I definitely agree to all of Kkuhl2013’s reasons. I too lack the time, creativity, or desire to be public affect how much content I produce. The reason that caught most of my attention was the fact that we lack the “creativity” to do so. I find it remarkable that with today’s technology, which is supposed to encourage creativity, we find ourselves lacking this skill.