Can Citizen Journalism Help Revive Our Democracy?

What is citizen journalism? It’s members of the community playing a role in collecting, contributing and disseminating news and information.

Robert McChesney’s beliefs include two things: 1. Democracy needs journalism/journalism needs democracy; 2. Democracy is following by the wayside because journalism isn’t doing it’s “duty”.

So in answer to my question, I’m going to go with an emphatic yes. McChesney would say the opposite due to the fact that he is very much in love with the idea of only professional journalism being able to inform and inspire citizens.

I think that citizen journalism inspires the public–possibly even more so than professional journalism. The fact that everyday people have a hand in creating the news means that they will more than likely be creating stories that interest them. These stories may also interest their peers, seeing as they are created by people in a similar position, and not some talking head only known from a television screen.

The problem that people raise with citizen journalism is that it should be left to the professionals, as they have gone to school and learned the standards of the industry. My response to that reasoning is the following: If this journalism isn’t working out how it is supposed to, maybe journalism schools need to change their approach. My other response is that maybe there should be journalism bootcamps set up across the country so that citizens are able to learn some professional standards.

Clearly something needs to change, otherwise everything is just going to continue down the same road. It’s time for a revolution…or a least a revamping!

February 20, 2010 at 4:47 pm Leave a comment

Which is the Lesser of Two Evils?

This week in my contemporary media issues class we have been reading chapters in Robert McChesney’s book, The Political Economy of Media concerning the so-called problem of journalism (the commercialization of journalism and its implications) and how we should be thinking about journalism.

McChesney’s main argument is that “professional journalism” is supposed to inform citizens and inspire them. It is supposed to be objective and ask the hard questions that no one else will. In order for journalism to work, it needs democracy. And in order for democracy to work, it needs journalism.

With the commercialization of journalism, McChesney talks about how the tough questions are no longer being asked and how journalism isn’t functioning like it’s supposed to. He says that because journalism is now run by a select few, it is the interest of those few that are being pushed to the masses. Is democracy as we know in danger? Could we be heading toward a state headed by an oligopoly?

I sincerely doubt it. As much as McChesney wants to suggest that journalism is the end all, be all, it is not. I’m sure there are other factors that make a democracy work. What do you think makes a democracy work? Do you think our government and the way of life as we know it is in danger if journalism somehow disappears?

An alternative McChesney suggests to having journalism being owned by media conglomerates is for the government to provide public subsidies to fund journalism so that there can be many voices in the marketplace. But how would news be safeguarded against the interests of the government? And wouldn’t this be propelling us ever closer to a propaganda state? What are the other consequences of this option?

So I ask you, readers, which is the lesser of these two evils: having news media that is controlled by a few big corporations, or news media that is subsidized by the government but is polyvocal? And why?

February 13, 2010 at 4:50 pm Leave a comment

New Semester, New Blog Category

This blog will now be a soundboard for my contemporary media issues class. Check back every Friday or Saturday!

February 10, 2010 at 11:04 am 1 comment

links for 2009-11-24

November 24, 2009 at 9:33 pm 1 comment

Art Inspiration: Andrew L. Moore

I came across Andrew Moore’s website back in August when I was looking for some cool photographs to present to my digital media bootcamp class. I remember his clicking on the photograph button and my breath being taken away. I think all of his work is great, but it’s his montages that really make me swoon. Look at a few examples below:

 

"Library"

"Brooklyn Bridge"

"Bicycle"

How incredibly magical are these images? Looking at them, I feel like I could fall into another world. These pieces make me want to attempt to create my own composited images!

Would you like to create composite images but don’t know where to start? Here is a tutorial you can check out that shows you how in Adobe Photoshop:  http://www.tutvid.com/tutorials/photoshop/tutorials/compositeImage.php

Also, these images make me want to write; I think they’d be a good inspiration for a magical realism piece or science fiction of some sort.

Hopefully this inspires you! Again, check out Andrew L. Moore’s website here: http://www.andrewlmoore.com

Happy creating!

 

November 24, 2009 at 10:41 am Leave a comment

Analysis of Up

Yes, I am aware that I am way late on the uptake (ahahaha…ha). My SO and I finally rented Up and watched it last night, and I was pleasantly surprised. I had heard how “it was SO good” and “an animated story that adults can enjoy”, but I didn’t realize how true these things were until I saw it.

First off, let me say that the animation was ON POINT, but this is a Pixar production we’re talking about so that’s to be expected. From the opening scenes with Little Carl’s stub nose, I was in love.

As for the storyline, it’s incredibly strong. I thought the beginning dragged on a bit, but it really gives you the backstory for the main character of Carl. Up is definitely a character-driven movie as we see a definite change from the Carl in the beginning, who is cranky and non-caring, to the Carl at the end who cares enough to risk his own life to rescue little Russell.

As for the grown-up issue, the adult issues that you don’t normally see in children’s movies definitely stood out. I kept turning to my SO and going, “THIS is in a children’s movie?” (I’m talking about the scene where Carl and Ellie are in the doctor’s office and apparently she has suffered a miscarriage.) Whoa. I guess the the people behind the film assumed that children wouldn’t get it, or that parents could explain to older children if there were questions. I think that including this issue helped viewers see why at the end Carl becomes attached to Russell, but who knows.

I absolutely recommend you see Up, it’s great for all ages; I’m 23 and my SO is 27, and we laughed throughout the film.

***Interested in seeing what else Pixar is cooking up? Check out their blog: http://pixarblog.blogspot.com/

November 22, 2009 at 10:53 pm 3 comments

Recommended Reading: Sarah Addison Allen

Author Sarah Addison Allen has my heart. I came across Garden Spells in Walmart and picked it up, as I had read a synopsis of it on Amazon. It sat on my bookshelf for months and months. Then I went to the library and saw a display showcasing North Carolinian authors (Allen was born and raised in Asheville, NC) with a copy of The Sugar Queen, so I picked it up. I DEVOURED that book [fitting, given its name] and knew I needed to dust off Garden Spells and read it.

Promo for The Sugar Queen. Click to be taken to book's website.

To describe these books in three words: magical, romantic, alluring. All of the books take place in fictional towns in North Carolina, and have elements of magical realism woven throughout.

You would think that the magical elements would be cheesy, but Allen finesses them so that they fit right into real life, but make things just a little more special. Examples in Garden Spells:

  • A character who HAS to give people random things, they don’t know what they need them for at the time, but it soon becomes clear.
  • When you eat an apple from the tree in the Waverly’s backyard, it shows you the biggest moment of your life. If you ignore the tree it will throw apples at you.
  • Another character cooks with certain flowers, and depending on their properties they affect the emotions of the diners.

Promo for Garden Spells. Click to be taken to the book's site.

You don’t just read these books; you drink them in and become immersed in them. You root for the characters and don’t want the novel to end. Allen’s next book, The Girl Who Chased the Moon, isn’t coming out until March 2010. You can read excerpts at her website.

***Sarah Addison Allen’s Website: http://www.sarahaddisonallen.com

November 17, 2009 at 11:40 pm 1 comment

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