Monday, 17 October 2016

Westminster Student Blog Series

We will be posting a series of blogs written by University of Westminster Postgraduate students. They are all based on their research of social media, and come with a YouTube video as well. We will be posting one a week for the next month, so keep your eyes peeled!

The Effects of Digital Media on Journalism and Politics

Zahra Hasan (@Zahra_Hasan), born in Dubai and now based in London has just completed an MA in Social Media, Culture and Society from the University of Westminster and has a BA in International Journalism and Media from Richmond University in London. She's interested in issues surrounding data privacy, new media consumption and fan engagement on social media, in particular. 
“Social media has changed the starting points for certain types of action,” says prominent media scholar and sociologist Nick Couldry, Professor of Media, Communications and Social Theory at the London School of Economics. His book “Media, Society, World” (Couldry, 2012), studies the ways in which society has been affected by the digital media revolution and the implications that this has. He applies social theory as well as practice theory into understanding how societies use media and how this has changed the very nature of behaviour and social organisation.

This video interviews both Professor Couldry and Professor Terry Kirby, Senior Lecturer and Director of the School of Journalism at Goldmiths University of London, and explores the impact that this shift to the digital has had on the fields of journalism, politics and political organisations in particular. The way in which the news is gathered, produced and consumed has changed from the era of print, now dwindling, to the current era of online journalism and news is now being increasingly consumed via mobile platforms. This can be both a good thing, in terms of a broader range of media outlets, as well as a dangerous thing; as the interviews remind us that it seems that audiences use social media and the Internet to turn to the sources they already had predisposed interests in.

So-called online protests, fuelled by social media, do indicate a shift in power from the status quo to the Gesellschaft – ordinary society coming together for a common goal (Tönnies, 1887). It remains to be seen, however, the outcomes and extent of this power shift. Furthermore, the impact that social media and web 2.0 play in social protests had initially been overstated, as Professor Couldry reminds us in this video; however, social media were a powerful tool in speeding up the organisation process especially in the digital era. This highlights the importance that social theory plays in today’s media environment and why “Media, Society, World” (2012) and similar books that combine social theory and the digital era are so crucial in understanding the nuances of digital media in society. It is important to study how journalism, the news and society’s interactions with politics have been impacted by social media and web 2.0. It is also interesting to attempt to predict the future of digital journalism and digital politics and to see how this affects political engagement and social and political mobilisation.


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