First, let’s count the biggest gatekeepers of industrial media in Australia. I can count two (Fairfax Media and the Murdoch empire). Two gatekeepers who control information and decide what it is that the people of Australia need to see. The metaphor of ‘gates’ refers to the publishing technologies controlled by media organisations. Gatekeepers police these gates to ensure that only suitable information is transferred through to their audience (Bruns 2003). News corporations tend to view their readers as passive, however, could this be why news readership is failing across the globe (Saba 2009)?
The rise of blogging has shaken up mainstream news and created chaos for industrial media. Revenue has plunged from industrial media due to the competition from citizen journalism on the internet (Saba 2009). Citizen journalism provides news as a process (Bruns 2009). The news item remains in beta which means that it is evolving and continually being updated. Use of traditional media is slowing down, while traffic to sites such as Reddit has been steadily increasing over time (Alexa 2014).
Think of a Reddit as a news platform; it is a gatewatcher which allows users to act as the main filters. There is an original thread, however the story of this thread can be seen in the comments which have developed over time. Coverage of topics remain unfinished, inviting user participation in a more conversational mode of information production (Bruns 2009). Gatewatchers have the ability to create ad-hoc, decentralised and crowdsourced content, which is not possible with gatekeeper journalism (Bruns 2009).
An example is the reporting of the Boston bombings which was reported much faster on Reddit than by industrial media outlets such as Fairfax Media (Ungerleider 2013). There are issues with this, however, such as false information being distributed and interpreted as fact. Though, on Reddit an article’s visibility is determined democratically by the users which usually irons out these issues due to the number of people looking at the content (Virasoro, Leonard & Weal 2011). This democratic voting may also lead to a fairer representation of global news (Virasoro, Leonard & Weal 2011). Reddit is a platform that not only gets the news out faster but also allows the users to choose what is most important. That’s pretty hard to beat.
Alexa 2014, How Popular is reddit.com?, Alexa: Competitive Intelligence, viewed 18 September 2014, <http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/reddit.com>.
Bruns, A 2003, ‘Gatewatching, not gatekeeping: collaborative online news’, Media International Australia Incorporating Culture & Policy, no. 107, pp. 31-44, viewed 18 September 2014, <http://eprints.qut.edu.au/189/1/Bruns_Gatewatching.PDF>.
Bruns, A 2009, ‘New blogs and citizen journalism: new directions for e-journalism’, in Prasad, Kiran (Ed.) e-Journalism: New Media and News Media, BR Publishing, Delhi, India, pp. 101-126, viewed 19 September 2014, <http://eprints.qut.edu.au/32539/>.
Saba, J 2009, ‘Specifics on newspapers from ‘State of News Media’ report’, Editor & Publisher, 16 March, viewed 18 September 2014, <http://www.editorandpublisher.com/PrintArticle/Specifics-on-Newspapers-from-State-of-News-Media-Report>.
Ungerleider, N 2013, ‘How Reddit became a hub of the crowdsourced Boston Marathon bombing investigation’, Fast Company, 19 April, 19 September 2014, < http://www.fastcompany.com/3008466/tech-forecast/how-reddit-became-hub-crowdsourced-boston-marathon-bombing-investigation>.
Virasoro, D, Leonard, P & Weal, M 2011, ‘An analysis of social news websites’, in Proceedings of the ACM WebSci Conference 2011, Koblenz, Germany, 14-17 June, viewed 18 September 2014, <http://www.websci11.org/fileadmin/websci/Posters/167_paper.pdf>.