Has Online Media Killed The Gatekeepers?

Olympia Newman – UTS Rethinking Media

Eli Pariser: Beware Online “Filter Bubbles”

Great TED Talk about the enormous control big tech companies have over our online world.

 

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Tech Giants: The new Gatekeepers

As of July 2013 News Corp. Australia (owned by Rupert Murdoch) controlled 42.3% of all daily newspapers sold in Australia according to the IBIS World Industry Report on Newspaper Publishing in Australia. In television, all free-to-air channels are run by one of five major organisation or the government.

Media ownership has been a contentious issue is Australia for a long time. With all of our mass media channels controlled by just a handful of big businesses, it is no wonder people are concerned about bias and individual agenda setting. Our recent federal election only too clearly demonstrated this with Rupert Murdoch’s Daily Telegraph heading “Kick this mob out”, referring to the Kevin Rudd lead Labor Party. With a dominating market share of print media, this bold and blatant message could be rolled out to the masses.

This is where the internet came in, announcing a realm of information free from the control of media moguls… where everyone has an equal force; the ultimate democratising force. But has this really happened?

The gates have been blown down, information and news can be freely created and gathered by anyone… but does this necessarily mean that giant media companies aren’t still in control? Big tech giants like Google, Facebook and Yahoo are buying up internet companies by the dozen. Google bought YouTube, Facebook bought Instagram, Yahoo bought Tumblr. With major mergers and acquisitions occurring almost daily, it could be argued that it is only a matter of time before online media ownership reflects the mass media landscape.

Take Amazon for example. It controls approximately 60% of the US ebook market. This amount is growing rapidly… so this statistic is probably already out of date by the time you read this. With their integrated purchasing process and network, they have made it easier for consumers to get everything in one place, effectively dominating the market. Book publishers are thus forced to do things Amazon’s way – Amazon have totally control of product and price. Competitor Apple even tried to collude with book publishers to raise ebook prices in response to Amazon’s aggressive discounting… but to no avail.

Large tech giants are kind of become the concierges of online media, guarding who comes in and out. Yes, they’re aren’t exactly directing content through editors and publishers in the traditional sense… but their ‘networks’ do almost the same thing; controlling the perceived value of things by its popularity. A rose by any other name… is still a gatekeeper. We might not quite be looking at a rose yet, but it sure smells like one!

Do you think tech giants are the next media moguls? Are they our future gatekeepers of information and knowledge?

Maybe only time will tell…

Universities: Gatekeepers of Knowledge

A handful of journalists filter the news for the general public and they are called gatekeepers. Universities decide what issues to research and knowledge to collect for the good of many, based on the opinions of a few academics. Are universities really that different from journalists? Just as journalists traditionally have commanded the news, universities control knowledge. As gatekeepers of learning, universities give out certifications based on the information that they have provided you… for a fee. They control what information they teach and who is taught.

It begs the question… with more and more information freely available online than ever before, have universities lost their control of knowledge? The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), is ranked 5th on The Times Higher Education World University Rankings for 2012-2013. Widely regarded as one of the top higher education ranking systems in the world, Time Higher Education base their results on teaching quality, international outlook, and importantly, research and knowledge transfer. MIT put a large amount of their teaching information online; lecture notes, readings, assessments and even exam questions.

I live in NSW, Australia. According to this scale the university ranked the highest in my state is the University of Sydney, ranked 62nd overall. Australia’s top ranked university (in case you were wondering) is Melbourne University, ranked 28th. So with our best universities in Australia ranked will below America’s MIT at number 5, could it not be argued that a better education could be acquired in Australia online through MIT?

I know this might sounds pretty drastic… I don’t believe we are quite at the point of seeking our degrees online, but you have to admit that the argument is there. Even with out the help of MIT there is a vast amount of educational information available online. Of the 23,500 international academic journals, more than two thirds are available online. Has an increasingly digital world meant that a thousand dollar education can now be acquired free online?

What do you think? Would you be tempted by the prestige of MIT to get a degree online? See what other people think by answering the poll below…

So is all really lost for universities. In my opinion… no! Sure there is more we can get the same information online, and yes it will change the way educational systems operate internationally, but I believe there will always be a place for universities. Universities, not only provide knowledge, but also expose students to new and different ideas. Yes, maybe you can get enough information from MIT online to perform a job, but that will never compete with the judgment and direction that a university can provide. No one can deny that the information revolution is changing the role of these knowledge gatekeepers, but I believe that the impact of first-hand experience and quality educators will always leave universities with a place in society.

What do you think?

Keep an eye out for my next post:

Tech Giants: The new Gatekeepers

Introduction to the 21st Century citizen journalist

Great introduction to ‘citizen journalism’ by matthewwufromuts. Take a look at the TEDxThessaloniki video by Paul Lewis, where he outlines the advantages and limitations of 21st century journalism. As a journalist from the iconic ‘traditional media’ publication, The Guardian, it’s really interesting to hear his take on the issue!

The Rise of Citizen Journalism

I’m taking a step back with this post. We’ve all heard about citizen journalism and how it has supposedly democratised journalism in the 21st Century … but what exactly is citizen journalism?

The traditional model of news reporting has shifted from a structured top-down approach to one that involves side-to-side and bottom-top (collaboration) reporting and research. This evolution negates the possible gatekeeping control of editorial filtering and provides a more de-centralised approach.

The worldwide adoption and ubiquitousness of the Internet and technology in everyday life has allowed regular people (without professional journalism training) report events through social media networking services. The influx of images and video from the chemical weapon attacks in Syria is just one recent prime example of this premise – even the US Secretary of State John Kerry highlighted the ideology in his address to the world!

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There are various tools and techniques a citizen journalist can…

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Journalist: Gatekeepers of the News

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“The gatekeepers of news have lost their keys”

“Bypassing the gatekeepers”

“Gatekeepers have lost their value”

“The gates have been blown away”

“The end of the gatekeeper”

Going off headlines alone, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the field of journalism had all but died out. The headlines paint a pretty bleak picture. The increased freedom of information online has drastically changed the media landscape and, intern, journalism forever… but I seriously doubt that we are heading for an all out extinction!

Politicians have long been trying (and failing) for years to bypass the gatekeepers of the news. But now, luckily for them, the technology has finally caught up! Politicians from both sides have jumped at the opportunity to detour around the journalists to get out the information that they want. No longer are they slaves to have journalists decided to ask and report. Has social media become the ultimate political weapon? K. Rudd sure thinks so…

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The gates have fallen down, and now journalism has changed forever. A great example of this was at a doorstop interview of Julie Owens, Federal Member for Parramatta, and Tanya Plibersek, Federal Minister for Health and Medical Research. The press conference was organised to help launch the Westmead Millennium Institute. Even though the event was to celebrate a momentous medical achievement the journalist, much to the politicians dismay, only asked questions about a recent political leadership poll that was published. The media broadcast the interview, in a story centered on the fallout from recent leadership polls. In response, Julie Owens posted the video of the full interview online showing how she tired to discuss the Westmead Millennium Institute with journalist, but with no success.

The audience has shaken off their passive observer static. They can seek out the information they want to see. Audiences are no longer dependent on the mainstream media for their only interpretation and explanation of events. The audience have been given the power to create their own news!

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So if journalists have lost their keys, then what’s the point in trying to guard the door? I believe that the future of journalism relies on journalist working with audiences to stay relevant. Twitter is a great example of how audiences are actually assisting in the creation of news. The hash tag #eyeonsyd, for example has had amazing success. You only need to type it into Twitter, or even Instagram to see the success of this simple hash tag. It facilitates a conversation between journalists and the public, allowing everyone everywhere to alert the media to news and events. But intern, this has meant that journalists have a much broader communications landscape to monitor than ever before. Can they do it?

What do you think?

Keep an eye out for my next post:

Universities: Gatekeepers of Knowledge

New Media: The Gatekeeper Killer

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A ‘new age’ of media has dawned. For much of the 20th century, the imposing force of mass media has had unprecedented authority over communication. Large corporations and groups have dominated the conversation, controlling theinformation accessible to the masses. But have the advancements in technology changed this power structure?

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The media revolution of the 21st century has seen a shift in the way we communicate. The one-to-many way of disseminating information is being railroaded by the two-way practices of social media. Online media has made it easier than ever for people to, not only access information, but also create their own content, than ever before. My blog that you’re reading right now is just one of an estimated 450 million currently available online. 21st Century media has meant that there is now more information readily accessible to the masses than ever before. With the volume of information published online estimated to double every 2 years, it seems as though this trend is not slowing down.

It has long been touted that knowledge is power – but what happens when you can download that knowledge online for free? In a time when information can be easily created and disseminated by anyone, will the traditional gatekeepers of information become extinct? And I’m not the only one thinking this! With regular headlines in the news proclaiming the “end of journalism”, it seems as though the way news and knowledge is controlled is drastically changing. So what is going to happen to our information and media moguls? Is the era of media domination over… or is there another force, waiting in the wings, ready to take over? Sure, the traditional information moderators might be becoming obsolete, but is this just making way for a new breed of economically driven gatekeepers?

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Throughout this blog I plan to look at this idea of the media gatekeeper? Who were these gatekeepers? What has happened to them? Will we miss them? And who (if anyone) has taken their place?

Keep an eye out for my next post:

Journalist: Gatekeepers of the News