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February 20, 2009

Participatory Media: Is it good competition or more mess to filter out?

We now live in the age of participation, where you have an option to give your opinions on any and every subject available. With the immergence of Movable Type, we can all make a blog and join forces in distributing the news more accurately right? Do we always agree with what the media has to offer us, content wise? Then why don’t we take it upon ourselves to go out and write about different events and rate restaurants, movies, albums, report issues on controversial programming and what the mass media won’t show on air?

All of this actually happens on a daily basis, but to find such content is more difficult due to the enormous amount of blogs created daily and who creates it. “The Pew Internet & American Life Project found that 57% of American teenagers create content for the Internet—from text to pictures, music and video.” Teenage girls? Yes, great deals of blogs are created as replacements for diaries. They represent these teenagers’ life at the moment and they share them mainly for their audience consisting of close friends. But shall we all have to go through these “diaries” in order to find something more meaningful and relevant to our interests and us? I don’t think that it’s necessary to say that these “diaries” are surplus to requirements; they hold significance like all other blogs, in that they allow a member of society, an ordinary citizen, to participate in media making. Thus, it makes for a need to balance out all types of media created. Comedy, dramatic, current issues, campaigns, personal and all other blogs are equal in importance to the creator, but how the audience can find meaning may be the issue we face at the moment.

Blogging should not be confused with actual journalism, one that involves covering a topic in depth with investigation, different viewpoints, and fact checking. Blogging is a personal opinion, what makes it participatory is the comments that people make to make it more interactive. The news is delivered to you and your opinion is rather irrelevant in most cases, a blog however can have a feedback comment associated right on the blog. So is this good competition? Well, for what it is, an opinion based commentary, yes. However, it also more information that the audience has to filter out in order to find blogs they would prefer to read as opposed to the constant flood of “diaries.” An article on The Economist defines a blog as a “personal online journal,” but it also goes further to analyzes a blog as being “social by nature, whether they are open to the public as a whole or only to a small select group” mentioning that “blogging is also about style.” With these characteristics, anyone can blog about anything and participate in the media. The main difference seems to be the credibility of blogs. Opinions sometimes render personal attacks based on the creator’s involvement in a situation. But the news has substantial methods of structure that show a continuity of order and responsibility to the audience in what they present. If blogs showed more structure towards research and investigation backed by substantial facts, then they too can prosper beyond traditional media.