Earlier last week, our afternoon class had the pleasure of hearing a variety of very wise thoughts from one of America’s most respected media analysts, Henry Jenkins. The former MIT Media Studies Professor and author of the 2006 best seller, Convergence Culture, presented us with a fascinating discussion about the huge impacts that social media has had on the world of journalism. With this ever-evolving digital world, Jenkin’s vast amount of knowledge on the significant trends in old and new media further aided in my true understandings of the viral changes occurring around us.
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In his enlightening presentation, Jenkins not only emphasizes the powers of grassroots media, but he also introduces the ultimate impacts of “convergence culture” on the relationships among current-day media audiences, producers, and content.
Jenkins seemed to debunk outdated ideas of the digital revolution by arguing that new media will not simply replace old media, but rather, it will learn to interact with it. He goes on to highlight the particularly negative impacts of new media on the newspaper industry by presenting a truly thorough analysis of this emerging aspect of citizen journalism—A new, popular and yet very controversial part of the journalistic community.
With the majority of the youth generation now only “grazing” the news, Jenkins frowns on the utter ease of current-day journalistic reporting and opinion sharing because it diminishes both the accuracy and validity of breaking news topics. He illustrates his frustrations by sharing Morley Safer’s well-known quote, “I would trust citizen journalism as much as I would trust citizen surgery,” and argues repeatedly on the importance of moving from “citizen journalism” to new “civic ecology.”
In addition, Jenkins’ advocacy for youth activism intrigued me as well. By offering his opinions on the growth of online activism via social media sites, Jenkins introduces the idea of moving from a world of “public service” media to “public engagement” media. He mentions the recent uprisings in Cairo and Syria, along with the dramatic March rise of Kony 2012. On a personal level, I was astonished to learn from Jenkins about Invisible Children’s original prediction of a mere half-million views by April 2012—And along with his readings of the viral hit through the professional lens of broadcast communication, I was able to achieve a much better understanding of all the hype surrounding Jason Russell’s viral video campaign.
Jenkin’s concluded the latter part of his discussions with a bright idea that I found to be truly helpful and inspiring for the journalistic path that lies ahead of me. He notes that in a world of social media, personalization is the norm. As journalists, we should not just be throwing out information abstractly, but we should be carefully offering our own individual thoughts and opinions to the rest of the world—And that, in my mind, was one of the wisest thoughts of the hour.