The rise of digital media, especially the Web 2.0 environment, has profoundly changed people’s daily interaction with today’s media (Nightingale and Dwyer, 2007). This article explains how today’s web users have switched from viewers to participants, lists some of the principal ways in which people interact with the media today, and analyses advantages and disadvantages of it.
What is Web2.0
Web2.0 is a new era relative to Web 1.0. It refers to a web-based platform, a user-driven content-based internet product model to distinguish traditional website employee-driven content from the second-generation Internet (Baidubaike, 2018). Web 2.0 is the current state of online technology because it has higher user interaction and collaboration, more general network connectivity and enhanced communication channels than the early stages of the Web.
The word “Web 2.0” has become apparent recently. Google has more than 9.5 million citations. But there is still a disagreement about what Web 2.0 means. Some people interpret it as a meaningless marketing buzzword, while others think it is the new traditional wisdom.
Futurist Alvin Toffler proposed the concept of prosumer in 1971. He believes that the transformation of passive consumers into active ones is a “fundamental change”. This change makes “Consumers are increasingly involved in the production process, and the boundaries between consumers and producers are becoming increasingly blurred” (Bennett, 2003). Axel Bruns, an associate professor at the Queensland University of Technology in Australia, believes that the emerging user-driven environment cannot be described with traditional languages. Therefore, he suggests that using “produsage” instead of “produsage” to give it a new meaning (Snurb, 2009). He believes that user-directed content creation takes place in a variety of network environments, such as Wikipedia, open source software, and blogosphere.
Recently, fans have moved to centre stage in audience studies, and rise with digital interactivity (Jenkins, 1992). As defined by Burns (2006), fans can not only communicate with their media but also participate in the creation of digital content. Furthermore, fans are playing their strength to against the power of media producers. Jenkins (2007) argues that as fans gather in larger communities, gather their messages, shape their opinions and form greater self-awareness on their common interests, emerging culture is forming. Media producers are even forced to modify their products according to the requests of fans. In other words, audiences are no longer passive but active users, which challenge traditional media gatekeepers (Bruns, 2006). As Gross (2009) writes, Internet media makes audience-generated communication a reality and gives citizens the opportunity to join as producers rather than just consumers. Jenkins (2006) uses the term ‘manufacturer’ to represent the integration of producers and consumers in an interactive environment that has been widely accepted as a brand new way of viewing the media viewers.
Citizen journalism（user generated content）
Citizen journalism refers to members of the public who use the Internet to disseminate information to spread news events. Citizen News can be a simple report of facts and news that are largely ignored by large media companies (Tochopedia, 2018). It is easy to spread through personal websites, blogs, Weibo, social media, etc. Some types of citizen also act as a check on the reporting of larger news outlets by providing alternative analysis.
The development of new media and its dissemination of science and technology have enabled more and more citizens to participate in the news production process. The “citizen news” has become an important force that cannot be ignored in the current dissemination of news. When the news happened, someone needs to tell a compelling real story. This practice is not necessarily limited to an elite group of professionals known as “reporters,” but the people who try it must tell wonderful stories and share knowledge (Lipschultz, 2018). In the book “We the media,” Gimmer (2011) believes that readers can also become newsmakers. News will no longer be a “broadcast” process by the media, but will increasingly become a “webcast” process in which journalists, newsmakers and readers interact with each other.
For instance, at the Rio Olympic Games, “citizen reporters” used digital cameras or mobile phones to record sports events seen by individuals at the earliest time, and timely updated the progress of sports events through Weibo, WeChat, and forums. The situation conveys a variety of sports events and instantly expresses one’s feelings and comments to share with the people. However, its professionalism and seriousness have yet to be examined, and even the “pan-entertainment” phenomenon of citizen sports news reports has emerged. Citizen News has fundamentally overturned the industrial news model and used its users as reporters and commentators. As the Blogger Dan Gilmore (2018) said, the citizen journalism is more like a conversation than a lecture in the discussion.
However, it poses a threat to journalistic ethical issues. There has been a contest between journalism professionalism and freedom pluralism. The development of network information technology has enabled people to have the right to produce and publish information content independently. People can individually edit and release new information on any network platform by their interests and judgments on the value of news. Due to the lack of corresponding self-discipline and professional qualities of “citizen reporters”, there have been a large number of news failures.
Video: Citizen Journalism: Adcantages & Disadvantages
Blogging and micro blogging
One of the most popular features of the Web 2.0 era was the rise of blogs. Independent blogs can attract large audiences. Commercial websites such as the Huffington Post have been launched and have become successful challengers for traditional media (Lipschultz, 2018).
The appearance of Weibo is considered to be the Chinese media phenomenon of 2010 and 2011(Zhang & Negro, 2018). “Weibo” means micro blog in Chinese. This platform is considered as the Twitter of China. Differing from the traditional blog, Weibo has allowed more Internet users to participate in the media. Micro blog’s content is typically smaller in both actual and aggregate file size, which means users are not required as strictly as traditional blogs. For the silent majority, Weibo is an open platform where everyone can form their views within 140 characters of text. One of the roles of Weibo in journalism is fostering civic engagement to achieve just outcomes. For example, the unequal treatment suffered by citizens will be widely discussed on the Internet, and thus these problems were solved under the pressure of public opinion，which is the result of citizen’s participation on the Internet.
Weibo as both a news medium and a public-opinion medium，the risk is that the information may be blurred by uncensored information. Since anyone can create a fake account without being traced, anyone can easily bully on the Internet. Threats, intimidation information and rumors may be transmitted to the public and causing social discomfort and confusion. Also, it may be hard for people to decide what to believe. As citizen journalists are authors and editors of their stories, they can record and write anything and then present it as a fact. Thus, their words of these events may be influenced by their feelings and opinions, which mean that citizen media should be inspected and re-examined for accuracy to produce real news.
By the statement above, it is apparent that today’s Internet users are not just viewers, but also participants and producers. Web2.0 has changed the way we engage on the Internet today. Internet users can access information actively on the Internet, interact with others, create content or leave a comment. People’s interaction with the new media is more frequent and more flexible. Nevertheless, this rapid progress has also created many problems, which have had some negative impact on society, such as adverse social opinion and distorted reporting. Therefore, regulating the network by certain approaches and preventing the recurrences of such issues are worth further discussion in the future.
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