A focus?

It’s easy to think about what communities are, but funnily enough, I’m finding it hard to think about what communities I belong to that I can specifically do a documentary about. What’s more, I need it to be interesting and engaging, and it needs to have some form of conflict in it. It would be harder to think about conflicts occuring in communities that I myself don’t belong to, but I guess I will have to resort to that if I can’t think of anything. Or maybe my brain is just too tired from all the assignments and readings that I have been doing in the past week :(

So far, I can think of some communities such as:

  • international students
  • Malaysians in Melbourne
  • blogging community
  • journalist community

For the first two communities, I can’t think of any conflicts that might be worth documenting on.

But for the journalist community, I was thinking about an internal conflict between citizen journalists and professional journalists. If you haven’t heard of the term before, it can be explained by the following paragraph (from Wikipedia):

Citizen journalism (also known as “public”, “participatory”, “democratic”[1] or “street journalism”[2]) is the concept of members of the public “playing an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing and disseminating news and information,” according to the seminal 2003 report We Media: How Audiences are Shaping the Future of News and Information.[3] Authors Bowman and Willis say: “The intent of this participation is to provide independent, reliable, accurate, wide-ranging and relevant information that a democracy requires.”

Since the emergence of the blogosphere, audiences have started taking news into their own hands. Some argue that citizen journalism does not depict real news, while others argue that citizen journalism adds some objectivity to issues that may be biased in mainstream news (due to media conglomeration, government policies, etc.)

Citizen journalists may be activists within the communities they write about. This has drawn some criticism from traditional media institutions such as The New York Times, which have accused proponents of public journalism of abandoning the traditional goal of ‘objectivity’. Many traditional journalists view citizen journalism with some skepticism, believing that only trained journalists can understand the exactitude and ethics involved in reporting news.

I’m wondering now if this issue would be applicable to the assignment. I’m guessing I can use ‘citizen journalists’ as a community, and talk about the ‘external conflict’ being pressure from professional journalists and also news readers regarding the credibility of news written by citizen journalists.

I read an article on c.net regarding this issue. The writer talks about insiders vs. outsiders, and as blogs being merely a tool for citizen journalists. Citizen journalists have perspective, and they engage actively with their audience and source their information from mainstream news media (mainstream news media, too, often refer back to citizen journalists to portray a more ‘objective’ stance on issues).

I also read up an article on the conflict amongst journalists who, when covering news on violence, encounter a conflict in interest:

Covering violent conflict, when the journalist is a member of one of the parties in conflict, invokes a special inner-professional contradiction. In fact, journalists are members of two communities simultaneously: the professional community and the national one. On the one hand, the professional community calls upon the journalist to tell a story that will be, or will have the appearance of, a factual, objective and balanced story…. On the other hand, the national community calls the journalist to take part in the conflict, to be its representative in the battle of images and sound bites, to be a weapon – to tell only the facts that are in favor of his nation, to tell an unbalanced, unobjective story…. The article explores how in such events, journalists, as an “interpretive community”, as representatives of the grief and confusion of their national community, turn to the patriotic point of view.

Somehow, I think I’m making things more complicated for myself. I’m not in this community myself, and have too little sources to interview for this documentary, should I choose to go along with it. Furthermore, I’m not too sure if what I’ve addressed above constitutes a conflict at all…. I only thought about it because I’ve studied this issue in my previous course, and it would be an interesting and engaging documentary if I put enough thought into it.

I will have to think about this some more…. and soon!!!

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