5. The Role of the Amateur/Individual – New Challenges in Screen Media

“The lines between media producer and media consumer have become increasingly blurred.”

The role of the amateur or individual in modern media has become an increasingly vital one, to the point where it becomes near-impossible to discern amateur and professional content. The power of the amateur in screen media has the power to spark social activism and to influence and shape the media landscape. This comes about as a result of access to tools and training online.

Social activism is also another major factor with which professional media entice the public to engage with. Henry Jenkins uses the example of the HP Alliancewho state: “we’re changing the world by making activism accessible through the power of story.”But the use of professional mediums to promote mobility in social issues can be used in a variety of ways. Such as Facebook being used by the public to arrange the Women’s March, in January, right down to like-minded people meeting online to engage in political discussion in various groups and forums.

Audience participation in mash-up culture also adds to this question of the role of the amateur. YouTube started off as an amateur-based site, where any user could upload their content. Now, people are starting to earn money from the site and these amateurs are dedicating their work life to creating content for the site. From let’s-play videos and reaction videos, amateur videos start looking like professionally-made videos. This happens as a result of access to the tools and tutorials to teach them the skills they need to create.

Here is an example of this mash-up culture on You Tube.

Here are a group of amateur filmmakers who green-screened themselves as Batman into classic movie scenes. They label themselves as known for making “movie parodies and pop culture mash-ups” and have based a successful You Tube career around it. In this case, the creators themselves went on to become professional filmmakers. A career which was kickstarted as a result of their online participation.

It’s because of high-quality videos such as these that it becomes difficult to discern who is amateur and professional online. Particularly when dealing with YouTube, as Michael Mandiberg states: “In July 2010, only three of the top-twenty videos were nonprofessional, and the majority of the professional videos were studio-produced, high-budget music videos added to the site.” (3)

As a result, this can pass on to issues of citizen journalism and screen consumption where screen media can become overwhelmed with varying content of high quality that leads to challenges when finding what it legitimate content and what is not.

Work Cited:

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


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