Filed under: Media Studies
Eric Klinenberg’s article Convergence: News Production in a Digital Age- 1 – is a survey of how trends have shifted in both the creation of the news and who studies it and how it is created and for who. Much of his argument is based on the colsolidation of media outlets into major conglomerations and the changing role of the people who work in these areas. I believe that while this analysis is valid, it misses or dismisses the complete restructuring of how the public recieves and now makes news. With the Internet being so prevasive in technocratic societies we no longer rely solely on a few to record or broadcast the stories of the many. Within the new media, the way it effects our senses and our connections we are then able to find our tribes and create our own discussions upon them and the “news” which occur.
In his own words, Here, I draw upon field work to show how changes in the journalistic field, particularly the rise of new technologies and the corporate integration of news companies, have led to a double fragmentation: first, for newsmakers, whose daily work has been interrupted and rearranged by additional responsibilities and new pressures of time and space; second, for news audiences, whom marketers have segmented into narrow units andwho are encouraged to forge symbolic or imagined communities on the basis of market concerns. (Klinenberg, 2005) – 2 –
He also makes the point that much of this content is then taken and repourposed through various media which the news conglomerete owns wholesale. Thus a print journalist will have to make a video component that will be broadcast on network television as well as seen on the internet with an interactive option. A lot of Klinenberg’s focus is on corporate media and “professional” journalists. Much of the article has a tone of lament of the demise of traditional journalistic norms. Much of it seems like nostalgia for times when reporters had budget and time to develop stories. He also seems very concerned over the fact that traditional print journalists are being asked to update their skills. As much as I understand that there are certian journalistic modes of operating that veterens of the field have the market cornered on, I think to allow them to be the gate keepers of the “news” while not engaging in the digital world is a misguided notion. What this article doesn’t address much is how journalisim has been changed through cultural expand that of the changing times. When it was published (1966) the news was still controlled by independant media outlets. Conglomerations had yet to come about and consolidate these outlets, but there was another factor at paly of the monopoly of the technical aspects of producing and distributing these
stories. At the time Thompson was writing there was a cultural fragmentation going on that was being fragmented for the first time in history. These fragmented cultures were beginning to demand the telling of their own stories, and those of other subcultures that they found interesting. These people were now a developing with enough disposable income it became viable to start marketing to. The actual production of these various types of newspapers and the knowldege of the media production means still remains a specialized proccess. Newspaper layout is a specialized feild that requires knowledge of a layout program, press mechanics and finishing. Not to mention distribution and building of the brand to make the news viable to a public (example: people reading the village voice rather then the AM to get thier cultural news). Even with the advent of “desktop publishing” and the ability to print something at home for distribution, there is still an issue of quality of design and production. Amature vs. professional dichotomies come into play. Even if a person is able to moblalize an army of distributers and mimic a style (like the Yes Men did recently with the fake New York Post paper) it still does not address issues of relevance. The News is being handed out and reported from the top down rather then latterally. The advent interactive media and internet discussions that are able to report on the spot, with hundreds of camera phones flashing and recording, is then able to be tagged and aggrigated by interested parties. These interested parties are then able to search and organize events that they are interested in how they are organized in relevant manners. The nature of the internet is one of searching out and finding information or of following information based on personal choices. Even in social networking contexts in which news is shared, it is still the individual’s choice to become part of these contexts. Klienman talks about the various conglomerates being pressured by advertisers and private interests to report certain news more then others and to be reductive in doing so. He comments on the phenomenon many reporters get caught disemnating information that may not be correct as they found their “facts” on the internet. These I blieve are just byproducts of the media age. The danger comes in we are in an overlap of ages, there are still seniors who would rather tune in to see the 6PM news and will take a story at face value. Savy media viewers of any age will however question the source, the purpose and look at the channel and the medium through which the conent is being displayed. I believe as more people participate and become content creators that the awareness and ability to discern these issues of bias and relevance are increasingly at the forefront of the collective newsmakers minds for whatever mass or subriences and is further changed by media progressions. Just as when Hunter S. Thompson the founder of “Gonzo” journalisim blended narrative with his experiences with the hells angels biker gang. Even though it was orginally an journalistic assignment, he built it into a book based on his own experiences culture strata they may belong to. The article seems to me like a fetisizaton of a way of communicating that has passed. Much like the collotypes and tintypes of the 1800s which were replaced by silver gelatin process, many people thought it was the death of imagry. Several more advances later, we then had the age of kodachrome and point and shoot camereas. Today, in our society, just about everybody has means to produce some sort of visual record at their finger tips. Instead of trusting the top down mentality, the trusted newspapers and the CNN anchors we are now the ones which must mediate our own intake and what we chose to believe or not believe about an event that has happened.
1. Klinenberg, E. (2005). Convergence: News production in a digital age. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 597(, Cultural Production in a Digital Age), 48-64.
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