I was reading a couple of blog entries by Jeff Jarvis today (1,2). Jeff has been spending a lot of time discussing some of the recent forays of "citizen's media" into legacy closed distribution networks. While I do believe these efforts are a positive thing for citizen's media (they generate awareness), they are not really citizen’s media. My response to Jeff’s first post:
“The bleeding of citizen's media efforts into closed network environments is an interesting phenomenon. It strikes me as a rather desperate attempt by the "dinosaurs" (as you put it Jeff) to keep pace with emerging trends. But once it’s broadcast on a closed network (TV, radio, or newspaper) it no longer becomes citizen’s media, it’s just MSM (and grainy MSM at that).
The fundamental problem with these efforts will always be that they are taking an inherently closed distribution mechanism and trying to push open content through it (CurrentTV, YOURradio, Adam’s Sirius show are all guilty of this.). It’s like trying to take the vocal opinions of a thousand people and cramming it into a few short sentences. Unless the crowd is as homogenous as a Bush town hall meeting, you’ve probably missed a lot of what was said. You still wind up with a very small number of people publishing through the channel. The only real difference to the audience is that a different guy is speaking. But there is still no sense of community, no sense of group participation, no sense of conversation. It's still a small group of people deciding what gets aired and what doesn’t; it's just different people making the decision. Is this really citizen’s media?
I thought the point of citizen’s media was not to put the most popular citizens up on a pedestal to represent us all, but rather to invite everyone to the conversation to let them express their own POV. The distinction between citizen journalists and MSM is not found in the individual (even MSM journalists can be citizen journalists, right Jeff?); it’s found in how groups of individuals participate in the discussion. The point is that everyone is free to publish what they want and everyone is free to consume what they want.
The real story in exploding TV journalism will be when news is comprised of content produced by everybody, filtered by everybody, and consumed by anyone. But maybe I’m missing the point.”
I’ve written a couple posts about this topic (1,2). It just seems very clear to me that whoever appears on a traditional closed network (whether they blog in their slippers on the weekends, podcast from their bedroom every Thursday, or vlog videos of construction in their neighborhood) is just another MSM guy when he appears on an MSM network (at least during the appearance). Otherwise, what really distinguishes citizen’s media from mass media? Is it the nice shoes, the expensive cameras, or the employment contract with MSNBC?