4. The Role of the Professional – Engaging the Public Through Popular Screen Media

It is being increasingly more relevant to say that the line between the professional and the amateur have become blurred in recent years. Professional media users have been taking advantage of Henry Jenkin’s “participatory culture” in order to engage the public through popular social media. This takes several forms. Many of which we are probably unaware about.

The most common examples of how professionals engage the public, is through social media sites. For sites like Facebook and Twitter, without constant public engagement, the sites would cease to exist. Something as simple as a “like” or “retweet” counts as public participation. When one considers how often we scroll past legitimate competitions that require a “like” and a “share” to enter, the level of which professionals encourage public participation becomes more obvious.

Professional media creators take advantage of pop culture. In the video below, Henry Jenkins describes in great detail the extent to which this is true. He uses the examples of comedy news shows and social activism.

Here, he makes the point that professional news outlets engage with younger audiences. The majority of youths nowadays receive their news through comedy news shows, such as Stephen Colbert and John Oliver. Young people still receive news and are thus encouraged to engage in political discussions. Humorous videos are also more likely to be shared on the internet, thus the news spreads towards a wider audience and the public are sharing professionally-made media. Below is an example of John Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight.” An American comedy news show, in which he explores recent news topics.

Even media sites, such as You Tube, which started as a platform for amateur users has become flooded with professional media in which people are encouraged to like and share. By posting a trailer of a film online, the public are encouraged to share that trailer, thus promoting the film. In the case of John Oliver’s news, every week their You Tube page is updated with clips from their most recent episode.

This also serves as an example of professional news outlets engaging with transmedia, taking advantage of the diverse media tools at their disposal to easily promote their own media.

Michael Mandiberg talks about “cognitive surplus” as “the excess thought power available to society when we convert passive spectatorship into participation in social media” (8), something which is highly relevant for several information-related sites, such as Wikipedia which, again, is based solely on audience participation.

Thus, we see the extent of the role of the professional, particularly in regards to Jenkin’s participatory culture, in engaging the public through popular screen media.

Works Cited:

Jenkins, Henry. Convergence Culture. 1st ed. New York: New York University Press, 2006. Print.

Mandiberg, Michael (ed.) “Introduction” The Social Media Reader. New York: New York University Press, 2012. Web. 1-12.


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