Monday, September 30, 2013

Mass Amateurization

Clay Shirky is a well-reputable and respected figure throughout the ever changing media landscape.  He is perhaps best known for coining the term used frequently today to describe "non professionals" attempting professional journalism work, mass amateurization.  Shirky describes this term in his authored, 'Here Comes Everybody' as, "Our social tools remove older obstacles to public expression and thus remove the bottlenecks that characterized mass media.  The result is the mass amateruization of efforts previously reserved for media professionals"(Shirky, 55).  This quote describes that social media's advancement throughout the years has expedited the need to transmit information, even if it may be initially incorrect.  As opposed to the "older obstacles" which where the traditional approach of taking your time in order to make sure the information being published was factually valid.

Clay Shirky courtesy of

My interpretation of Shirky's views on mass amateurization is that social media has allowed everyday citizens the false interpretation that they are professional journalists.  Being a journalist is not about finding information first and publicizing it without properly investigating in order to ensure that the information is accurate and more importantly reliable.  But I do believe Shirky finds value in the emergence of citizen journalism.  In that citizen journalists can assist trained, professional journalists who went through proper schooling and experience, an avenue to become aware of information more instantly.  It is then the obligation of the professional to utilize their expertise to research that information to be able to ensure its legitimacy.

Fan fiction culture, as outlined by Henry Jenkins in "Why Heather Can Write," has reached a crescendo as time has elapsed.  First off, "Heather" is Heather Lawver who at the age of thirteen, launched the Daily Prophet.  The Daily Prophet, "is a web-based school newspaper operating within the fictional world of the Harry Potter novels"(Jenkins 177).  Lawver innocently wanted to provide an outlet where Harry Potter fans could partake in her fictional storytelling adventures.  This however was met with divided opinions.  Some praised Lawver for taking the initiative to make literacy a focal point of her motives.  Other believed her plans negated Christian ideology in a secularized society.

Charles Darwin, courtesy of

Personally, Lawver should be commended for taking the impetus as a home schooled girl to seek education in the form of literacy.  Its safe to say that most children in her age group would not put a focus or prioritize on education over the increasing presence of partaking in social media.  Even if she is classified under the category of mass amateruization of the author, what separates that category from mass amateruization of a journalist is stark.  A journalist does not deal with the realm of fiction; they must report facts.  What Lawver did deals in a purely fictionalized world hence my belief that an author dealing with mass amateruization should not be subjected to similar criticism by a mass amateruization journalist. 

The future of media professionals is headed towards an increasingly dependent social media driven world.  Innovative technology will continue to be at the forefront of the evolving journalism landscape.  How people seek information may continue to change but the ways in which true, journalism professionals operate should not change.  That is serving the field with dignity, honor and authenticity.

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