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.


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.

2. Citizen Journalism

Citizen Journalism has an important role in promoting various issues relating to society as a whole. One such example is that of the Woman’s March, which took place on the 21st January 2017 and saw a wide range of people take to the streets of, not just Washington, but in various cities all around the world to show solidarity for women following the inauguration of Donald Trump’s presidency.

As a result, citizen journalists had a key role in capturing the event on the day. Social media websites, such as Facebook and Twitter showed several images, videos and live tweets being posted and shared. These images were shared worldwide and proved that both men and women were not going to stand for Trump and what he stands for.

According to the Women’s March official website, “over 5 million of us worldwide and over 1 million in Washington, D.C., came to march, speak and make our voices heard.” Citizen Journalism proved its usefulness during the March when, days later, Donald Trump claimed that more people attended his inauguration than the Women’s March. Due to the outpouring of images and videos that appeared online before and after this statement, Citizen Journalism proved this was not true. One such example is from this video showing a citizen journalist’s view of the Women’s March from the front line in the march in Washington D.C.

Furthermore, countless other images and videos appeared on social media accounts from attendees, depicting the strong numbers at the march and the passion with which these people spoke out about this very prominent issue.

For the 2017 Women’s March, social media and citizen journalism were used to its advantage. An app was made in an Instagram-style to show photos of the march and to share information and updates on the march. While the app itself was made specifically for the march on Washington, it certainly added to the support as attendees could meet up easier.

Main organizing for the Women’s March originated on Facebook. According to an article by The Verge, Teresa Shook was the first to suggest the idea of a march the day of the presidential election on Pantsuit Nation, a private Facebook group page for supporters of Hillary Clinton. “By November the 11th, her suggestion had been taken up by 10,000 women,” the article reveals. In just three days, through social media, the march was to go ahead.

Even if people couldn’t make the Women’s March in their respective towns and cities, citizens shared their support on social media by liking, sharing and retweeting pictures, status’ and videos online. Simply by doing this small act of citizen journalism, support and recognition for the event spread so that it reached a global audience. Sister Marches have also been widely documented, thanks to Citizen journalism.

As a result of the spread of images and videos online, the Women’s March gained global recognition it more than likely would never have gotten without the participation of citizens online, thus displaying the true significance of citizen journalism today.

1. Social Media in 2017 – Progressive or Dangerous?

There are definitely various pros and cons to social media that have become evident in the last couple of years. As a culture, we certainly focus on the progressive aspects of social media rather than the dangers.

Through media, it is easier for people to remain connected, particularly between large distances. Through websites such as Facebook or Twitter, voices have been given to those who might have otherwise been unable to speak freely in pre-social media years. This gives people access to a wider world of information and allows people to make more informed decisions when they have all of the facts and opinions from all sides. Whereas before, they might only have had a limited view of the situation. By seeing daily articles appear on their newsfeed or timelines, they can share an opinion with a relevant community. And through online forums, they can argue their opinion or find like-minded individuals.

Support groups are a big part of the internet these days. Online forums where people can anonymously speak to a wide group of people who may be experiencing similar hardships can find the help they need through social media. This can be especially helpful if the person in need does not have the confidence to express their issues in person. Social media also spreads important news and highlights national and international issues to an age who might not normally be interested in hearing about such issues. Certainly the media has also been progressive terms of organizing world-wide movements, such as the Women’s March seen earlier this year and through pictures posted to various social media outlets.de. In advertising such pro-active campaigns, social media has clearly been a driving force in setting about change for the better.


However, like many things, social media has a dangerous side that could be getting worse as 2017 progresses. Issues such as cyber bullying has always been a very present danger, particularly to the younger generations. A couple of years ago, all we heard about on the news were stories about the effects of cyber bullying. But, through social media, with so much information being poured onto our screens at every given time, such issues have been glossed over. Social media creates a distraction for most people that allows them to easily forget the present dangers such as cyber bullying. Social media has a negative effect on self-image. Again, this main issue relates to younger generations who are constantly using these generally unfiltered websites. When young boys and girls are constantly viewing images and reading articles about “the perfect image,” how could they feel anything but inadequate? This dangerously leads to mental and physical health problems.

The majority of the internet remains unfiltered and unedited. Discerning fact from fiction becomes nearly impossible and most people these days forget to fact-check the information they are reading. Miscommunication became an issue. This could adversly affect important issues, such as the so-called “alternative facts” being presented by Trump supporters in America. As a result, social media leads to an open area to spread dangerous messages and images.

Social media concept

Social media is a hugely relevant topic at the moment. It advances every day and more and more people are using them to spread their opinions. Influential people play a large role in how social media is dictated. The majority of Twitter-users are celebrities or politicians. They usually attempt to put forward positive views or reveal information about their work. However, social media is not one-sided. It is there for all to see and criticize.

While there can be pros and cons to these features, it shows the ways in which social media can be used to progress but can also be a dangerous tool on the public.