Digital Audiences: User-Created Content

Ever since the ‘Arab Spring’ swept across the Middle East, there has been a larger general awareness of the power of social media websites and how their presences and use can be foundational organisational tools for instigating social and political change.

But Adam Curtis has a different opinion on the rise of audience created content.

The argument goes like this:

In the 1950s, not long after the invention of television itself, television journalists essentially served as prompters for various government figureheads and their official viewpoints. Journalism itself, at the time, was simply a means of communication from the government down to the people. However, during the 1960s and 1970s, journalism saw a change in function due to political scandals – exemplified by Watergate – seeing a transition in journalist behaviour – joining the mainstream shift in society to question political power, big business and bureaucracy. Yet such an optimistic approach to proactive investigative journalism didn’t last…

The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 seemed to have a lasting negative impact on journalism as the certainties of “good and bad” and “political right vs. political left” became blurred and ill defined. But rather than working to make sense of the new complexity of the modern era, journalists chose to turn away from moral principles and turn their attention towards facilitating a simple recording of experience – asking for audience generated content – photos and videos – under the guise of “democratised media”, yet in reality what was created was a “vast echo-chamber of uncertainty and unaccountability” ultimately void of context.

Sounds very similar to the audience generated content on social media these days.

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