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Mediated Communities

Civic Voices, Empowerment and Media Literacy in the Digital Era

Moses Shumow

Mediated Communities brings together a diverse, global cohort of academics and professional communicators to assess the current state of democratic mobilizing around the world and the ways in which protest movements are being transformed in the midst of a communication revolution. Contributors draw on a variety of international settings – from Greece to Lebanon, China to Argentina – to demonstrate the ways in which community organizing in the digital age relies increasingly on digital media to communicate, help participants find common ground, and fight for change. Contributors acknowledge the challenges that lie ahead for creating real and lasting democratic change, but at the same time are able to draw attention to the potential that digital media hold for strengthening citizen voices around the globe.
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Chapter 8 – Uneasy Relationships: Journalists, Social Media, and the Implications for News


~ Chapter 8 ~


Stephen A. Jukes

IMAGES OF atrocity, carnage and grief flow into our screens from the streets of Damascus, Cairo and Bahrain. They fill our televisions, laptops, i-Pads and mobile phones. Unedited and raw: this is today’s depiction of what was once, in hope, called the Arab Spring. It is no longer the privileged preserve of foreign correspondents, now, arguably, a dying breed. But is it journalism? Does this “user generated content,” “social media,” “citizen journalism” or “citizen witnessing,” as it has variously been called, depict the facts or is it propaganda; truth or lies; objective or subjective? The boundaries are becoming increasingly blurred and with this blurring emerges a complex and tense relationship between journalists and the public. One thing is certain, that relationship has changed for good.

The aim of this chapter is to explore the uneasy relationship and its implications for news. It examines briefly the historical context for the upheaval in today’s news industry and the collapse of the industrial business model that dates back to the introduction of the mass printing press in the late 19th century. Drawing on contemporary examples of citizen journalism in the international news arena and studies of newsroom attitudes, it looks at changing practices and the reaction of mainstream news organizations to social media, including what has been a tendency to pour scorn on its proponents as not “proper” or “professional...

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