As modern media becomes ever more a part of our modern living many individuals are increasingly finding themselves shifting from a consumer of media and becoming a producer of it. In The Social Media Reader, Michael Mandiberg stresses the dramatic effect the invention of new media forms have had on media consumers (1). Creating photos and videos posting them on Facebook would count as creating media although most people would not consider themselves to be “making” media just enjoying the interaction they have with the platform. This new relationship we have with media is one which is transforming the casual user or amateur into a content creator as part of the online experience. We respond and interact with others having the frequent result of creating opinions and videos of a personal nature thus creating content however minuscule it may appear.
Henry Jenkins in his Ted talk discusses the online participatory culture which has low barriers for engagement and where contributions matter. It is not a far step from posting on Facebook to joining in a protest march or even as seen in the example in Jenkins’ talk of the HP Alliance, who access Harry Potter fans to create social change “we’re changing the world by making activism accessible through the power of story.” The role of the amateur is changing the way people are communicating, organizing and expressing themselves creatively.
Easy access to education online has allowed the amateur to break through barriers which might have impinged on their ability to learn the professional media techniques in the past. Online videos can instruct the curious on a variety of subjects relating to media production and coupled with easier access to technology and platforms such a Youtube the amateur can enjoy creating media and find an audience for their creations.
YouTube started off as an amateur-based site, where any user could upload their content. Through the Youtube partner program individuals are starting to earn money from the site and are dedicated to creating content for the site. The variety of video styles from let’s-play videos to reaction videos is ever increasing and new territories are emerging all the time.
New technology has a history of becoming more affordable thus allowing the public to interact with it and examples in the past can be seen in the music industry where tape cassette allowed people to create their own mix-tapes and record demos in their garage. The software that allow us to edit video at home means that there are many amateurs creating new media as the mash-up culture is evidence of.
Many amateurs have been able to make a living from their online content and the Youtube partner program has many success stories such as Casey Neistat, a vlogger and filmmaker who over the years has built-up his profile and creates professional content as a result.
The lines between the professional and the amateur have become increasingly blurred as incomes can be generated by amateurs with no official media qualification and thus may not have the ethical training which would prevent them from exploiting those featured in their videos, as parents do with their children in many of the toy review videos. Standards of safety are also a concern as the ever competitive field of prank videos elevates the stakes to get the top views possible.
Mandiberg, Michael (ed.) “Introduction” The Social Media Reader. New York: New York University Press, 2012. Web. 1-12.
Jenkins, Henry. “Tedxnyed – Henry Jenkins – 03/06/10”. Youtube, 2010, https://youtu.be/AFCLKa0XRlw.
Slade, Alison f., Narro Amber J., and Givens-Carroll Dedria. “Television, social media, and fan culture.“London:Lexington Books, 2015. 190-191.Print.