Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Mass Amateurization

According to Everyone is a Media Outlet by Clay Shirky, "'mass amateurization' is a result of the radical spread of expressive capabilities, and the most obvious precedent is the one that gave birth to the modern world: the spread of the printing press five centuries ago." Essentially, the printing press led to the invention of the Internet. Then, the Internet led to the rise of social media and mass amateurization. Chapter 3 of Shirky's book, Here Comes Everybody, was properly titled in that everybody does become a media outlet. As technology has been integrated into society, there has been a rise in citizen journalism. It has become easier for people to share what they witness and what they know through the Internet with the use of their technological devices such as the iPhone.

Social medias such as Youtube, Twitter and Facebook has helped shape the media world and its power to deliver and to share news globally. As it was discussed in class, the situation in Syria is a good example in how citizen journalists utilized social media. Through the use of social media and technology, Syrian citizens were able to communicate with people in other parts of the world. They were able to share videos and photos of the brutality going on in their country. Because a Youtube video of a woman dying in front of the camera was shared, it went viral and everyone in the world knew about Neda and what she represented in her country.

Screenshot of NEDA from the viral video
According to Shirky it is "the same way you do not have to be a professional driver to drive, you no longer have to be a professional publisher to publish." Citizen journalists are amateurs in that they do not have the proper knowledge or skill to be a professional journalists, but they still helpful. Like the citizens in Syria that used social media to share and communicate with people on a global level, citizen journalists are first-hand-on-the-scene reporters. They are helpful to professional journalists because unlike professional journalists, they do not need to go through a process in order report news and the speed of news reporting is a lot faster.

In Jenkins Why Heather Can Write, fan fiction is a form of citizen journalism that takes on a different light of "mass amateurization." It talked about the Daily prophet, "a web-based school newspaper operating within the fictional world of the Harry Potter novels"(179). Jenkins described that this is a form of citizen journalism in that it is not written by a professional journalist, it is written by a fan, a young writer. This is a form of "mass amateurization" because even though it still spreads and advertises the brand "Harry Potter," it is written by an amateur, a non-professional journalist.

Professional Journalism VS Citizen Journalism

 With the creation of the printing press and other inventions leading up to the Internet, "mass amateurization" was inevitable. It will continue to rise with new developments and creations. Although the popularity of blogging is on the rise and the viewers of blogs will continue to rise with it, there is still room and demand for the professionals in the media. Citizen journalists will always exist with stories but so will professional journalist with hard, fact-based news. 


Jenkins, Henry. (2007). Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media 
                   Collide. New York: New York University Press.

Shirky, Clay. (2008). Here Comes Everybody: Everyone is a Media Outlet.  
                    New York: The Penguin Press.

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