Democratisation of media

In recent years it has become far easier to create websites and publish content online, allowing the public to create their own news and set their own agendas.  Blogging and online forums, that only require a minimum of technical knowledge, have allowed a wide diversity of organisations and individuals to reach people.  Large media outlets still play a major role, but increasingly link to grass roots websites that they feel are better able to reflect the voices and views of the public.

What are the implications?

  • Power shifts from organisations to individuals as the media moves away from a ‘broadcast’ model, where a central organisation publishes to a large audience, towards a ‘conversational’ model, where a large number of smaller organisations and individuals are all publishing and talking to each other.
  • A narrowing gap between ‘professionals’ and ‘amateurs’
  • Previously those who controlled publishing channels acted as a filter, democratisation of media shifts the responsibility to filter on to the individual.
  • New ways of organising online information develop as the plethora of information available online is increasingly hard to negotiate.
  • As traditional trust in institutions and experts declines, the public are able to seek out information from peers.
  • Digital exclusion means that some voices are not heard and risks a bias of media in favour of those who are IT literate and able to access the Internet.
  • A risk of declining trust in organisations, as people access all the information they need online, leads to the increased importance of demonstrating accountability and transparency through providing information online.
  • More collaborative working as ‘wikis’ develop – webpages that organisations and individuals edit collaboratively.

Moving forward

Democratisation of the media offers new opportunities for VCOs to get their voice heard.

  • What role does your website play in your marketing and campaigning? Do you link with other organisation’s websites (and vice versa) as a way of reaching new audiences?
  • Can you use your website to quickly develop a campaign and mobilise people?
  • Can you alert the local or national media to your online campaign and get greater exposure?

There is also an expectation of two way conversations.

  • Can you use this dialogue to add a human voice to your communications and increase the legitimacy of your campaigning?

Although democratisation of the media has the potential to generate a wider range of views and include more people, there is a risk that those who are not IT literate or do not have access to the internet may be left behind.  Others may struggle as the sheer number of voices means that not all can be heard.

  • How can you ensure your organsation’s voice is heard amongst a variety of voices who may be able to shout louder than yours?
  • What is your role in listening to marginalised individuals and communities, and ensuring that their voice is heard?  Should this be done through your organisation or can you facilitate participative opportunities, where people can directly contribute their voice?

Want to know more?

Blogs vie with news for eyeballs

Published by: BBC website

Date: 2005

Format: Web

What is it? An article looking at the role of blogs in news journalism.

How useful is this? This short article provides a quick overview of the role of blogs following the announcement by the search engine Yahoo that it will include blogs as well as traditional news sources in its news search system.  It briefly outlines the role of citizen journalists and user-generated content and gives examples of how blogs have been used, for example, in coverage of Hurricane Katrina.  It uses expert opinion to consider the role of blogs and the role they may play in news coverage in the future.

Other comments:

citizen journalism: what to do with all that stuff?!

Published by: – the personal blog of Robin Hamman, a Senior Broadcast Journalist/Producer at the BBC

Date: 2005

Format: Web

What is it? A blog entry set out as a starting point for looking at citizen journalism.

How useful is this? This blog talks about how following high profile events such as the London bombings, the BBC received large numbers of images direct from viewers.  It highlights some of the difficulties associated with citizen journalism including: data processing for broadcasters; ethical and safety implications of citizen journalists; and concerns from some journalists that they will become redundant.  It includes links and details of further information.

Other comments:

Have you got news for us?

Published by: The Guardian – a left of centre newspaper

Date: 2005

Format: Web

What is it? An article exploring the rise of user-generated content in the media and its advantages and disadvantages.

How useful is this? This article follows high profile campaigns by traditional media outlets to buy material produced by the public.  It finds that this is driven not only by a search for new material but by a drive to increase brand loyalty and create a greater sense of community.  Using examples, it highlights issues such as: copyright and payment; authenticity; and safety.  It explores the tensions between traditional media and user generated content, looking at the need for a change of mindset by media outlets and how and whether they can coexist.

Other comments:

Last updated at 11:11 Fri 15/Aug/08.

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Author Comment
Megan 's picture


Third Sector Foresight

Pete alerted me to this post from Peter Franklin on the Conservative Home blog which talks about the blogs that influence those in Westminster. The oldest and most influential bloggers are still independent individuals (he cites Guido Fawkes, Iain Dale and Conservative Home). However, he sees the mainstream press reasserting its previous dominance as many journalists get the hang of writing good blogs, which are becoming increasingly influential (eg Comment Central from Danny Finkelstein and colleagues at the Times and the Spectator’s Coffee House blog)

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