Tweeting and scribbling on walls and scrapbooks is the most in-thing in the world of Internet these days. Day 2 of the Asian Media Information and Communication Centre (AMIC) annual conference opened a new wave of thought around social media.
In the session titled ‘All That Twitters Is Not Gold: Sorting Fact from Fiction in the Digital Garbage Bin of Cyberspace,’ explored the effects new media has had on investigative journalism. Panelists at this session included Dr Martin Hadlow, University of Queensland, Australia; Dr Harsha Gangadharbatla, University of Oregon, USA; Dr Robert Seward, Meiji Gauikin University, Japan; and Prof Alan Knight, Queensland University of Technology. Prof Michael Bromley, University of Queensland, Australia, chaired the session.
Setting the tone for the session, Dr Martin Hadlow said, “It is important to recognise the way new media is changing our lives, and in our hearts we know that new media revolution is taking place across the globe.” In his presentation, Dr Hadlow raised questions about the authenticity of sources and information on these platforms where there were no editorial gateways. Prof Alan Knight in his presentation also reflected on future of journalism in the changing face of technology. He said, “Everyone is worried about the future of journalism in a world where anyone can dig around in the digital garbage bin and come up with stories.”
While Dr Hadlow and Prof. Knight pondered over the future of journalism, Dr Harsha Gangadharbatla wondered why people felt motivated to put out information on these networks. “We have been used to mass media where we consumed information from radio, television, and print. But now the paradigm is shifting as Internet has connected everyone and people have access to tools like Twitter and YouTube.” He further pointed out that people were going to these sites for social interaction, the need to belong to a group, communication and commerce.
The next session, ‘New Media, Citizen’s Journalism and Democracy,’ expanded the scope of discussion on issues revolving around modern age journalism. The panel was chaired by Arun Mahizhnan from the Institute of Public Policy, Singapore, who is also a Board member of AMIC. The panelists included Dr Cherian George, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore; Prof Michael Bromley, University of Queensland, Australia; and K Kabilan, Editor of Malaysiakini.com, Malaysia.
The session explored the strengths and limitations of citizen journalism. Commencing the session, Dr Cherian George noted, “The term citizen journalism has an embedded critique as it implicitly points out that journalism fails to live up to its expectation.” He explained that citizen journalism was growing because one could find information through expert blogs, civil society and fan media, which in many cases could offer superior quality of information than professional journalists.
Prof Michael Bromley remarked, “People like to participate and they have moved beyond commenting on media. It is no more just about writing letters to editors.” He, however, stressed that not everyone who had touched a keyboard or held a mobile phone was a citizen journalist. Dr George also noted that though society needed quality journalism, there were not enough people willing to pay for it.
K Kabilan explained the significance of citizen journalism citing the examples of the many stories that citizen journalists had produced for his website.
AMIC 2009 explores issues concerning media, democracy and governance
Accountability, transparency, ICT, social transformation take centrestage at AMIC 2009