Journalism is an ever changing landscape. Of-course with change comes resistance as Quandt ( 2011) details in their case study, there is turmoil within the profession especially between older individuals within the field and technophile youths. Those whom are against participatory journalism argue that it will degrade the profession. These individuals fear that user-generated content will over shadow real journalism due to the lack of resources and researching that goes into participatory journalism; therefore degrading the journalism profession as a whole. Though what they have not taken into consideration is why participatory, or citizen journalism as it is also known, is so intriguing to the audience. Citizen journalists are intriguing and often preferred by the audience as they offer an unbiased opinion. Obviously many citizen journalist pieces can be completely biased but their opinion can also sometimes be held in a higher regard as the consumer can be assured these individuals do not have corporate backing whom is dictating what opinions to print. Citizen journalists also suffer from the same issues as print journalism, they can control the medium but not the message. Stuart Hall’s decoder/ encoder model explains adequately that the audience depending on their context will decode a message perhaps differently to how an encoder anticipated. This has significant issues within the political sphere as noted by McKay (2013), as paid political advertising can make or break candidates (McKay 2013 p. 152) due to this model. However, in regards to Obama we have seen why technological communication has its benefits. The Obama administration participated online through social media which allowed him to better connect with the American people and McKay (2013 p.154) believes that it was Obama’s internet campaign in 2008 that saw his popularity rise so significantly.
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It is clear that journalism is altering into the technological world we are now all living in. Though still a great fear is held that participatory journalism will degrade journalism, it is clear that no matter how the message is relayed it will depend on the audience’s interpretation of the message. The case study of Obama indicates that perhaps participatory cultures are providing a better platform to convey these messages and are not detached as journalists have become from their audiences (Quandt 2011).
McKay, D 2013, American Politics and Society, Wiley- Blackwell, United Kingdom.
Quandt, T 2011, ‘Understanding a new phenomenon: the significance of participatory journalism’, in Jb Singer, A Hermida, D Domingo, A Heinonen, S Paulussen, T Quandt, Z Reich & M Vujnovic (eds.), Participatory Journalism in Online Newspapers: Guarding Open Gates at Online Newspapers, Wiley- Blackwell, Chichester, West Sussex, pp.155-175.