How the Occupy Movement has transformed American media
For almost the past three months, the New York Times has been outdone. The Washington Post has been outshined. The Dallas Morning News has been surpassed. Our American media system has not been disposed of, but it is evolving right before our eyes.
As the Occupy Movement unfolds, news carriers are no longer just trained journalists sitting behind a desk with a press badge hanging around their neck. It is the person with a cell phone who is getting the story out first. It is the person with a flip camera livestreaming to nearly 25,000 people at one time. The bystander live tweeting an event that happened one minute before is now a crucial element in the media system. The movement has ushered in a new era of citizen journalism.
Taking the green out of news
As the first generation of social media users, our peers have come to make up the media system. While there are still flaws to this method of news (false information instantly disseminated by the thousands), at the very least, American media is now back in the people’s hands. It is no longer completely owned by corporate giants.
Before this shift, 90 percent of American media was owned by six companies. ABC is owned by Disney, and therefore protects its owner’s agenda. Likewise, Time Warner owns CBS, which defends Time Warner’s interests. New citizen journalists have tweaked the idea of media agenda setting by becoming part of the media and shining light on the movement’s own issues that mainstream media outlets initially ignored.
Who protects the interests of the tweeter or the blogger? These grassroots journalism efforts are the purest form of giving a voice to the voiceless. Because livestream viewers get the latest in Occupy news from a man named Tim with a camera phone and not a man whose salary is paid by General Electric (who owns NBC and Comcast, among others), they can rest assured it’s merely a stream of what is happening, without any corporate bias or filter.
Journalists rethink their role
While citizen journalists have taken media blackouts in cities, such as Oakland and New York City, as an opportunity to take the media back into the people’s hands, classically trained journalists are developing new ideas on how to cover the news. When credentialed journalists were thrown out of Zuccotti Park the night of its first police raid on November 15, they took to Twitter to report the blackout, marking each update with a “media blackout” hashtag.
Journalists have witnessed vulnerability and government censoring through these blackouts firsthand, a clear violation of the media’s oh-so dear First Amendment right of freedom of the press. These incidents of censorship ground journalists in realizing the amendment’s vital role in this movement. Once their own voice was taken away, it was time to take it back with a vengeance through mobilization efforts via social networking and blogging.
This media evolution that’s reducing emphasis on mainstream media and encouraging grassroots journalism has sprouted a new era of news coverage. The people have occupied the American media to represent the movement more accurately without corporate owners’ interests seeping onto its front pages and headlines. While traditional journalism hasn’t been lost, citizen journalists sure are giving it a run for its money.