Widening & Deepening

People often refer to September 11, 2001, as the start of globalisation, or at least the realization for most people that globalisation was upon us, and the impact this would have. Since 2001, the world has become more aware that terrorism, the Internet and news can transcend boundaries (Callahan, 2003, p.1).

Globalisation has had two profound impacts on the audience of journalism. Firstly, globalisation has widened the audience of journalism, as global issues now have a local impact and relevance. Secondly, globalisation has encouraged the deepening of journalism, as the citizen journalist emerged and news has become more local.

Take journalism and news media in the Middle East as an example. The audience has widened, as more people worldwide are tuning into what is happening in the Middle East as it has a local impact. It has also deepened within the Middle East, for example a blogger may write a story about a shop in Khewa, Afghanistan shutting down because of increased violence in the village.

The Internet is at the core of the changing audience of journalism as it actively encourages an increase in the spread of news stories through online news (width), and also provides the media for individuals to publish news stories that are deeper on a local level. Mitu explains that it is “the speed, rhythm, and interconnectedness of online media [that] encourage[s] an idea of news as an ‘always on’ utility” (2010, p. 186). With increased accessibility comes a larger and more diverse audience, and people who wouldn’t normally purchase a newspaper are now more aware of local, national and global affairs.


Steve Johnson, a New York news aggregator, discusses how every morning he checks blogs which cover “a part of my neighborhood and community that I wasn’t getting from The New York Times or other traditional media” (Miller, 2008, p. 30). This shows how the audience of news is growing locally, as news is more specific to the individual users.

Miller (2008, p. 32), discusses how this change in audience interaction with the news has been catalyzed by social media sites “such as Facebook and MySpace” which give “consumers the tools to become self-publishers”. These self-publishing medias have also helped “demolish national censorship regimes which may have created state-constructed fantasies at odds with local realities – as in Cambodia and China” (Knight, 2003, p. 11), and therefore this increase of news depth allowed by the Internet and in particular social media, has had a widespread impact is allowing the participation of the audience in news.


An increase reach of international news, and therefore a more diverse audience, has been aided by globalisation. This can be explained by looking at The London Times in the 1960s whose advertising slogan was ‘Top People Read The Times’, which “was indicative of the confidence newspapers used to have in the social homogeny of their readers” (Thurman, 2007, p. 285). In the 1960s, news had a limited geographical reach as they were restricted by “distribution mechanisms” and therefore journalists were writing for a very narrow readership (Thurman, 2007, p. 285).

Today, the Internet and other distribution methods has allowed The London Times and similar papers to have a global reach, and as a result “audiences are rapidly shifting from almost exclusively local, to communities of interest that transcend geographic and political boundaries” (Thurman, 2007, p. 286). For example, once an almost exclusively UK paper, The Guardian now receives “78 per cent of its web readers from overseas” (Thurman, 2007, p. 287).

Through looking at the changing audience of the news, it is easy to see that the readers, listeners and viewers of journalism are not static, and will continue to change in years to come. This does not

arrive without challenges for journalism, as stated by Professor Alan Knight, “[journalists] must address the challenges of the new technologies — developing multifaceted communications which combine text, audio, television and animation. At the same time, they must also retain the traditional attributes of accuracy, clarity and ethical reporting (2003, p. 13)”. Globalisation of news media has changed the world of journalism, and in the next decade the audience of news will continue to widen and deepen as the Internet provides more ways to view and publish news.


Callahan, S. (2003). New challenges of globalization. Journal of Mass Media Ethics, 18(1), 3. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Knight, A. (2003). Globalised journalism in the Internet age. Ejournalist.com.au, 3(2). Retrieved from http://ejournalist.com.au/v3n2/knightr.pdf

Miller, R. (2008, July). The new journalism: it’s audience participation time. EContent, 31(6), 30-34. Retrieved March 26, 2011, from ABI/INFORM Global. (Document ID: 1508324581).]

Mitu, B. (2010). Cultural journalism and globalization. Geopolitics, History and International Relations, 2(1), 185-190. Retrieved March 26, 2011, from Research Library. (Document ID: 2132388681).

Thurman, N. (2007). The globalization of journalism online. Journalism, 8(3), 285-307. DOI: 10.1177/1464884907076463



Blog are a great media for any individual, whether they are a professional journalist or not, to express their views, review restaurants or products and even write news stories. Journalists are using blogs as a way of providing more personal insights on news stories and most major news networks have their own blogs.

There are also millions of bloggers who consider themselves to be ‘citizen journalists’ who use sites such as WordPress.com, Blogger.com and Tumblr.com to express their views and connect to their community. “Blogs can provide a source of independent and alternative news from traditional mainstream media” (Deibert & Rohozinski, 2007, p. 20), which is refreshing in democratic countries, and even more important in countries where the government controls the media. This explains why in many communist countries, activists are easily attracted to blogging as a way of promoting their cause.

The ease of blogging provides a fantastic tool for individuals worldwide to have their say, but unfortunately this can lead to negative consequences when blogging threatens the state’s control of media (Deibert & Rohozinski, 2007). The silencing of bloggers mainly occurs in non-democratic regimes, which poses more problems as the “accused bloggers are often burdened by limited or no access to legitimate justice systems” (Deibert & Rohozinski, 2007, p. 22).

As the Internet becomes more accessible in countries worldwide, so does blogging, and this has resulted in an increase in the number of blogger arrests. “The most common declared cause of blogger arrests is ‘anti-state activity’” (Deibert & Rohozinski, 2007, p.23). These bloggers usually question their state’s leadership or encourage anti-government movements including protests. The graph below shows the locations that the arrests have been taking place up until 2007, highlighting that Iran, Bahrain and China are the three highest arresters of bloggers. All of these countries are military dictatorships or communist regimes.

The BBC believes that the rising rate of blogger arrests is “testament to the growing political importance of blogging” (BBC News, 2008). This has been evident more than ever in the 2011 protests in the Middle East and North Africa. Reporters Without Borders, an organization that encourages press freedom, has reported on “the arrests and disappearances … of bloggers and online activists across a number of Tunisian cities” (Reporters without Borders, 2011). Tunisia is a good example of where there has been very little traditional media allowed in the country due to a crack down by authorities, and social media including blogs have provided the majority of news, pictures and videos to an international audience.

The exact number of blogger arrests is unknown, because a lot of the information does not make it to the main media. Some interesting examples of bloggers arrests:

Palestine: A Palestinian blogger named Waleed Khalid Hassayin was arrested in 2010 for a blog he wrote called ‘The Enlightened Mind’ which provided arguments against religions (Gharbia, 2010).

Saudi Arabia: “A Saudi blogger, Fuad Al-Farhan, noted for his promotion of moderate reform in Saudi Arabia has been arrested” (Crossroads Arabia, 2007) for what the Saudi government justified as ‘funding terrorism’.

Bahrain: A Bahranian blogger, Ali Abdulemam, was arrested in 2010 for discussing democracy on this blog, and is still in jail today (Hopkins, 2010).

Burma: Nay Phone Latt, a blogger in Burma “informed the outside world about the military junta’s brutal crackdown during pro-democracy protests in September 2007” (Morillon, 2008). Latt was sentenced to 20 years non-parole jail time. Furthermore, Latt’s lawyer was then jailed for criticizing the sentence given.

This is a just a small snapshot of the large number of bloggers that have been arrested in previous years, and unfortunately this number is just going to continue to rise as blogging becomes more widespread. These situations really highlight the power of words and the impact that a blog can make, especially in repressive regimes. If countries including Egypt, Libya and Tunisia come out of the current protests as fairer, stronger and more progressive countries, then a large amount of the credit can be attributed to the role of social media, in particular blogging, for encouraging the population to demand change.


BBC News. (2008, June 16). Blogger arrests hit record high. Retrieved February 11, 2011, from BBC World News: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/7456357.stm

Crossroads Arabia. (2007, December 23). Saudi Blogger Arrested. Retrieved February 11, 2011, from Crossroads Arabia: http://xrdarabia.org/2007/12/23/saudi-blogger-arrested/

Deibert, R., & Rohozinski, R. (2007). Good for Liberty, Bad for Security? Melbourne, VIC, Australia.

Gharbia, S. B. (2010, November 13). Palestinian blogger arrested. Retrieved February 11, 2011, from GlobalVoices : http://advocacy.globalvoicesonline.org/2010/11/13/palestinian-blogger-arrested-for-criticism-of-islam-on-facebook/

Hopkins, C. (2010, September 7). Bahranian Blogger Arrested, Probably Tortured. Retrieved February 11, 2011, from Read Write Web: http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/bahraini_blogger_arrested_probably_tortured.php

Morillon, L. (2008, November 14). Burmese Blogger Sentenced to 20 Years for Reporting on Protests. Retrieved February 11, 2011, from Media Shift: http://www.pbs.org/mediashift/2008/11/burmese-blogger-sentenced-to-20-years-for-reporting-on-protests319.html

Reporters without Borders. (2011, January 7). Wave of arrests of bloggers and activitsts. Retrieved February 11, 2011, from Reporters Without Borders: http://en.rsf.org/tunisia-wave-of-arrests-of-bloggers-and-07-01-2011,39238.html

Simon, M. (2008, April 25). Student Twitters his way out of Egyptian jail. Retrieved February 11, 2011, from CNN: http://edition.cnn.com/2008/TECH/04/25/twitter.buck/index.html

Collect + intelligence = $$

In the information age barely anything is a monologue. In 2011 we love to like, dislike, share, comment, blog, check-in, bookmark, tag, rate, rank, review, and tweet everything we hear, see, feel, smell, taste and want.

Web 2.0 has provided a platform, which now offers everyone the opportunity to participate in content production. “Social network services such as Twitter or Facebook are also huge enablers of this kind of behaviour … information can be shared and/or published from a mobile phone and published instantly with global reach and multimedia support” (Colombino, Grasso, & Martin, 2007, p. 2).

This results in large-scale manifestations of collective intelligence, which Wikipedia defines as “a shared or group intelligence that emerges from the collaboration and competition of many individuals” (Wikipedia, 2011). Collective intelligence has always existed, but today is “occurring on a scale and in a way that never would have been possible before the Internet” (Malone, 2009). Wikipedia is the ultimate display of collective intelligence online, as “thousands of people all over the world create a very large and very high quality intellectual product with almost no centralized control, and for free” (Malone, 2009).

The infrastructure provided by the Internet has meant that collective intelligence is becoming increasingly beneficial for businesses. An example of this was seen when Vitamin Water connected with its online audience to develop a new drink. The first step of the competition run by Vitamin Water was choosing the flavour. The more chatter about a flavour, the higher it was rated on the Facebook page. This created the top ten flavours when fans could then vote for the best. The second step was the design of the packaging, where “Facebook fans were able to use the app to design the packaging” (Rhodes, 2010). Finally, the black cherry and lime Vitamin Water was named ‘Connect’, through another branch of the competition. The result of Vitamin Water embracing collective intelligence was one million individuals that felt like they had impacted the development of ‘Connect’, equating to one million customers.

Collective Intelligence is also being embraced in journalism, “the process through which news is created [is] moving away from a clear distinction between readers and writers” (Colombino, Grasso, & Martin, 2007, p. 2). More often, news networks are using “content provided by non professional users” in prime time news (Colombino, Grasso, & Martin, 2007, p. 2). This form of journalism is often tagged citizen journalism, which is continuing to prove that it can “cover some issues more effectively than the mainstream media, mainly because of the limited time and space that the mainstream media can devote to any one issue” (Macdonald, 2008, para. 1).

Collective intelligence and citizen journalism is proving to be the most effective and important during times of crises. The following examples highlight this:

1. In May of 2008 a killer earthquake hit the Sichuan province of China killing 68,000 people. A popular Chinese blogger, Ai Weiwei, visited the area and decided to make a list of all the children who had died. When Weiwei formally announced his campaign volunteers assisted him all around the country by visiting the villages to uncover the truth. The campaign succeeded in publishing the names of all the children that had died in the area and highlighted the power of collective intelligence for the greater good (Joyce, 2009).

2. When the London Bombings occurred in 2005, BBC News provided features “for witnesses to submit their videos photographs, and words, which became an integral part of the BBC report of the unfolding events. Within six hours, the BBC received more than 1,000 paragraphs, 20 amateur videos, 4,000 text messages, and 20,000 e-mails” (Rajaram, 2010).

3. During the Iranian election protests, journalists were banned and computers and mobile phones were blocked. In response, protesters and journalists sent messages, photos and video via Twitter to the outside world showing the atrocities that were occurring in Iran.

These examples are just a small selection of situations where collective intelligence through citizen journalism “go far beyond ‘have your say’ instructed comments or simple collection of photos and video about an event, but actually become a structural part of the content” (Colombino, Grasso, & Martin, 2007, p. 4) and highlights that “we are all becoming a larger part of the information dissemination mechanisms that were once reserved for formal media channels” (Joyce, 2009).

The professional press is starting to explore means to make the collective intelligence that emerges from citizen journalism useful and profitable. For example, many newspapers “host social networks where readers can publish photos and blog posts” (Online Journalism, 2010) and The Guardian is even “experimenting with other means of participation like crowdsourcing, by asking the readers to help with little pieces of investigation that may contribute to mainstream news topics” (Colombino, Grasso, & Martin, 2007, p. 3).

In conclusion, collective intelligence is being used in journalism to provide insight into situations where professional journalists are unable to go through citizen journalism. Furthermore, traditional news structures are embracing the collective intelligence of readers to increase their sources and add more photos, videos and comments to stories.


Colombino, T., Grasso, A., & Martin, D. (2007). Collective Intelligence and the Creation, Use and Management of Citizen‐Led Journalism. Retrieved February 25, 2011, from Parc: http://www.parc.com/content/events/attachments/colombino-CitizenJournalism.pdf

Joyce, M. (2009, May 21). Chinese campaign reports quake victims. Retrieved Fabruary 26, 2011, from Digiactive: http://www.digiactive.org/topic/citizen-journalism/

Macdonald, H. (2008, April 11). Adenece of collective intelligence in media making. Retrieved February 24, 2011, from New Media Mogul: http://hughmacdonald.net/2008/04/

Malone, T. (2009, February 4). Thomas Malone speaks on Collective Intelligence. Retrieved February 26, 2011, from YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ITQ7XYG8Tk4&feature=related

Online Journalism. (2010, January 15). What is User Generated Content? Retrieved February 27, 2011, from Online Journalism Blog: http://onlinejournalismblog.com/2010/01/15/what-is-user-generated-content/

Rajaram, D. (2010, November 24). Citizen Journalism and User-generated Content. Retrieved February 25, 2011, from Suite101: http://www.suite101.com/content/citizen-journalism-and-user-generated-content-a312843#ixzz1F9XPr573

Rhodes, M. (2010, January 11). Social Media Case study: Vitamin Water’s newest flavour created by Facebook fans. Retrieved February 27, 2011, from Fresh Networks: http://www.freshnetworks.com/blog/2010/01/case-study-vitamin-waters-newest-flavour-created-by-facebook-fans/

Wikipedia. (2011, February 14). Collective Intelligence. Retrieved February 24, 2011, from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collective_intelligence

Convergence in Journalism

“Convergence is about being flexible enough to provide news and information to anyone and everyone, anytime and all the time, anywhere and often everywhere without abandoning key journalistic values” (Kolodzy, 2006, pg.vii).

Photo credit: cohdra from morguefile.com

Convergence on a large scale is currently occurring in the world of journalism as the traditional roles of journalists are being stretched, pulled, prodded and challenged everyday. Convergence in journalism can be seen in two ways:

  1. The union of all forms of media to create interactive, all encompassing news reporting – otherwise known as multimedia journalism and
  2. The new type of journalist that writes, films, produces and edits their own news stories, or backpack journalism.

Multimedia Journalism

As Kolodzy discusses, “convergence in journalism means the coming together of journalists and certain types of journalism that have been operating in separate spheres – newspapers, magazines, radio, television, and online – to provide quality news in all those different formats” (2006, pg.10). This convergence has lead to a “multi-platform, multimedia environment” (Wallace, 2009, pg.685), where news is no longer a one-way system “offering little opportunity for feedback on the part of the reader or the viewer” (Stevens, 2003, para5). Instead multimedia journalism combines “text, still photos, animation, graphics, video and audio” (Stevens, 2003, para6) to create two-way communication where individuals can contribute their own knowledge and resources.

Henry Jenkins, a professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology discusses that convergence is not an end state; it is a continuous and dynamic process (Kolodzy, 2006, pg4), and therefore convergence will continue to play a large role in journalism. In her book, Convergence Journalism, Kolodzy discusses that “less than thirty years ago, the digitization of words, pictures, and sound for access by a variety of electronic devices seemed like science fiction” (Kolodzy, 2006, pg.5), so adding another ten years onto that, what will the world of journalism look like?

Backpack Journalism

In the 21st century, the constant demand for information has lead to many changes for journalism: for example the emergence of twenty-four hour news operations, the use of the internet and social networking sites providing live news feed, and the new phenomena that everyone can be a journalist. Bill Gentile, a pioneer in ‘backpack journalism’, explains this final concept further:

“Ordinary citizens of the world now wield extraordinary power; we wield the power to communicate instantly, globally and in a language, the visual language, which supersedes both the written and spoken word. This visual language knows no frontiers, it needs no translation… it is one of the most powerful tools of our time. Backpack journalism is the embodiment of this visual language” (Gentile, 2010).

Gentile is discussing the way that individuals are “challenging the traditional media’s role as gatekeepers of news and information” (Kolodzy, 2006, pg.3). This is where convergence comes into play, as journalists needs to compete with the ability and resources now in the hands of a large proportion of the world to report on news and events, as well as the expectations and demands on the 21st century news audience; “convergence is about acknowledging that the way journalism has always been done needs to evolve, and continue to evolve, because news audiences are evolving” (Kolodzy, 2006, p.vii).

Photo credit: jppi from morguefile.com

Backpack journalism, other wise known as ‘one-man-band’ journalism, is the personification of the modern convergence of journalism, where “one news gatherer acts as both camera operator and reporter, and sometimes editor” (Wallace, 2009, pg.685). This transformation in journalism has been aided by the replacement of heavy cameras that were difficult to operate with “lightweight digital video cameras that allow journalists to move freely about the room, in order to get closer to their subjects, to spend more time, to become far more intimate” (Tompkins, 2011). Today, in cable news operations “it is common to expect journalists to write stories, shoot video, and edit it themselves. This is a sharp contract from traditional broadcast news stations, where reporting, news photography, and video editing are discrete professions” (Kawamoto, 2003, pg.68).

Into the future…

Ten years into the future, convergence will continue to impact on journalism in both ways that it is impacting today. Firstly, news coverage will become increasingly interactive and personalized as all forms of media combine to provide more instant and accurate information. Secondly, the age of the backpack journalist I predict will be in full swing, all though as Kawamoto discusses, specialists will always be required in the journalism field, it will be the individuals that can perform on multiple platforms and think beyond simply print, video or the Internet and converge these medias will be the most successful (2003, p.72).

Reference List

Gentile, B. (2010, December 9). Backpack journalism today [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9jQLqQQ-iw

Kawamoto, K. (2003). Digital journalism: emerging media and the changing horizons of journalism. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., USA.

Kolodzy, J. (2006). Convergence journalism: writing and reporting across the news media. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., USA.

Stevens, J. (2003). Backpack journalism is here to stay. In Online Journalism Review. Retrieved from http://www.ojr.org/ojr/workplace/1017771575.php

Tompkins, B. (2011, January 3). Backpack journalists: where did they come from? [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://brandontompkins.wordpress.com/2011/01/03/backpack-journalist-where-did-they-come-from/

Wallace, S. (2009). Watchdog or Witness? The emerging forms and practices of video journalism. Journalism, 10, 684. doi: 10.1177/146488490910653

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