Thursday, December 1, 2011

"Public" broadcasting

Last night the Park School of Communication's Distinguished Visitor Series featured social media entrepreneur and sister to the founder of Facebook, Randi Zuckerberg. As a woman who has first-handedly influenced the way we communicate in our everyday lives, it was great to hear that some of the trends in social media exist to pick up the slack of commercial media outlets by seeking to give voices to those who go unheard by commercial America.

"Social media is a conversation, whether you're doing a broadcast or a news article," she said. "The days of passive consumption are over. People want to fee like they are engaged in the content."

In a time when even public broadcasting programs are succumbing to the ways of the commercial media by providing right or left wing biases, social media is filling that void. One of the main reasons social media is becoming such leading force in our culture is because it gives people that voice as well as the option to participate in the news—something that is changing the future of journalism forever.

Zuckerberg said another trend is the preference of people to tell real, authentic stories. This feature of social media has altered the way people want to consume their news; they want to know whats going on behind the scenes. Although this ultimately diminishes the journalistic principle of transparency, it gives the audience 'real person, real time' commentary. It confirms to consumers that people behind the news are not robots like it often seems in corporate news outlets whom are forced to mark all biases. Even those reporting the news have opinions, and this is something that independent outlets and social media both succeed at expressing.

An article by Fair said, "what is needed is a call for public broadcasting to fulfill its mission, bringing independent, provocative programming that features voices ignored or marginalized by the commercial media." But according to Randi Zuckerberg, an important element that is missing from all news media that social media provides, is the idea of reaching people on their own turf.

"You need to reach people where they are, and where they are is social media," she said. "Social media brings content to people who would not have seen that content makes it live on and on."

So, when both the public and commercial broadcastings are falling short of their obligations to "see America whole, in all its diversity," it is satisfying to know that an arena exists for Americans and people all over the world to go and can express their voices that would otherwise go unheard. Social media, in all of its meanings, is single handedly connecting our world.

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