Sources of media have changed rapidly in recent times. “What underlies such change however, are the principles of distributed content production..” (Miles, 2007). Rather than traditional outlets being used to distribute media, such as television, cinemas, music and video stores, radio stations and newspapers, the internet has become universally used to access this content. People find watching films online via downloading or streaming much cheaper and more accessible than going to the cinema and paying $20 to watch a movie once. Similarly, they much prefer using programs such as Spotify or Pandora to listen to any artist, anytime, with just the click of their mouse. Even physical newspapers are in jeopardy of becoming phased out with access to 24/7 news online, breaking stories as they happen.
Box office figures have fallen dramatically since 2009, decreasing by over two billion dollars worldwide (Proboxoffice.com, 2014). This loss of revenue is severely detrimental to the film industry. Television shows that premiere in America are instantly uploaded to websites such as uTorrent for Australian viewers to download ahead of their own premiere. As a result, video hire stores are struggling financially with many Video Ezy franchises closing down in recent years. The convenience of accessing media from the comfort of your own home is becoming increasingly popular. It will be an imperative role for future media makers to create strategies that avoid online piracy. Film, television and music distributers will increasingly lose income if this issue remains unresolved. Unfortunately this is a difficult problem to solve.
I personally still love going to the cinema because I have a genuine passion for film and appreciate seeing cinematography on the big screen. However, I am guilty of downloading movies online if I want a second viewing or to watch a film I haven’t seen in a while. It’s just easier and cheaper than going to hire one from the shop and many people would agree. Streaming music online rather than buying a physical album adheres to the same concept. According to data published by the Recording Industry Association of America this year, music streaming revenues have surpassed CD sales for the first time in the United States. This trend is only expected to continue.
Downloading and streaming will no doubt be an issue for distributers in the future as they try to combat this problem. Illegal downloading is virtually impossible to stop. Do you remember the ‘Piracy is a Crime’ advertisement from 2007? It used to play at the beginning of most DVDs. Unfortunately most of us don’t watch DVD’s anymore to be reminded of this message.
The creation of Netflix has challenged the notion that people are not willing to pay for digital entertainment. Netflix has over 35 million paying subscribers in the US. This service charges a fee for users to watch television shows and movies ad free over the Internet. I personally question how a fee-charging streaming service can overcome the prolific piracy of entertainment in Australia. Why would people change their habits and begin paying for something they’re already receiving for free?
Film, television and music distributers will need to adapt and consider alternative options when releasing their products. Using modern media outlets such as Netflix and iTunes will be beneficial to them because although customers must purchase their movie, TV show or song, it is at a small price and has a more superior quality than that of a uTorrent version.
Social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have become household names worldwide. In April this year it was recorded that in Australia alone there are 13 million people on Facebook, 2.5 million on Twitter and 1.6 million on Instagram (Cowley, 2014). Often important news breaks on Twitter and is consequently posted on Facebook before being reported on television and in newspapers. Breaking news I have learnt through social media in the past week has included the death of Gough Whitlam, the sentencing of Oscar Pistorius and the murder of Josh Hardy, a man my age who lived in the college across the street from mine. Not everything that is published on social media is true however, so users need to be careful and check their sources accordingly. Celebrity deaths are occasionally fabricated online, and many conspiracy theories also circulate amongst users.
I am still deciding what career I would like to pursue but becoming a journalist is something I am seriously considering. Most journalists in today’s society are social media users and regularly access Twitter, using the site to broadcast news. As a result, the luxury of having some length of time to consider what to publish is gone. Now the news is so instant that in some situations journalists have just moments to decide if they’re going to ‘tweet’ breaking news to the world. This is especially difficult when issues of defamation are a serious risk. Journalists have been taken to court for cases of defamation and this can seriously damage their reputation, particularly if they lose. Sadly, finding employment in print journalism is becoming increasingly rare with so many people now accessing their news online. Publishers will also experience difficulty finding work in the future with less newspapers and even books being printed. This industry will be amongst the most significantly affected.
Social media has become a platform the public can use to influence what makes headlines on our news. In 2010, the act of ‘planking’ became an Internet sensation. Thrill seekers would upload photos of themselves laying facedown across different objects, sometimes in dangerous situations. I even joined this craze and shared the photos with my Facebook friends at the time. As a result, this controversial activity was plastered all over the news, with police outlining the dangers of participating. It was members of the general public who in this instance influenced our media to report about it. Ironically, this only brought attention to the fad and more people started planking.
Similarly, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that swept across the world this year was fuelled by social media. Without these platforms the challenge would have failed to become so successful. Social media is made up of a vast network that allows people from all over the world to share and connect with one another. It is in this aspect that “network literacies are marked by your participation as a peer in these flows and networks – you contribute to them and in turn can share what others provide.”
These stories began ‘trending’ worldwide. Trending essentially means something is currently popular and people are talking about it. If I were to become a journalist in the future, I would need to be on Twitter and have a network that connects me to all the right people, brands and companies. A single tweet could trigger an entire story. For example, about a month ago I was listening to triple j and a news broadcast came on about Palmer United Party senator Jacqui Lambie. The report announced she had just posted an inappropriate image on Twitter depicting a Muslim woman armed with a gun. A journalist had obviously seen the photograph and instantly reported it to the mainstream media. There are hidden risks to social media and what you post can easily be misinterpreted or placed in the wrong context. Once you upload something to the Internet it’s there for everyone to see, and ultimately critique.
Some contributions to the Internet can be extremely negative. The beheading of American journalist James Foley was a violent and repulsive act, posted online by members of the Islamic State to send a message of fear to the world. This is a great misuse of the World Wide Web. The emergence of the Internet and social networking has given people greater power to influence our world and in particular, our media. If I was to pursue a career in social media management, one role would be monitoring what is uploaded online and removing anything inappropriate. It is likely I will ultimately take a job that has not even been invented yet. The ever-changing media industry will inspire the creation of new careers. There are critics who disapprove of jobs focusing upon social media. However, CEO of Likeable Media Carrie Kerpen wrote in Forbes magazine “I believe strongly that there are key areas within social media upon which you may build a career. These areas will survive the emergence and dissipation of networks, tools, and philosophies.”
Reality television shows take advantage of the increased use of social media. Producers give viewers the opportunity to directly influence what they see onscreen. Big Brother has recently commenced this interactive experience by allowing social media users to vote online for which housemate they wish to evict from the game and who should receive the ‘Head of the House’ power. Viewers feel better connected with the show and are more likely to become emotionally invested in the housemates. Television production is another career I am very interested in and having the knowledge and capability to combine the program’s features with social media would be advantageous to its overall success. Similarly advertising careers will need to adapt to these online networks, as the Internet is an effective marketing tool used to reach an expansive audience.
As Adrian Miles stated, distributed content production is constantly changing and society is having a greater impact on influencing the media we receive. Innovations will continue to occur and in terms of network literacy, “all of this may change, and appear differently in six months”. The role of distributers, producers, journalists, publishers, social media managers and advertisers will all be affected by the increase of online networks. The implications they will have on these careers are significant but with innovative ideas and adaptive strategies, this medium can be used to their advantage.
1. Benc3485, 2011, ‘Planking – Ten News HD’, Youtube, May 12, retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cvg0gSn74pc
2. Cowley, D, 2014, ‘Social Media Statistics Australia – April 2014’, May 1
3. Haxorcat, 2007, ‘Piracy it’s a crime’, Youtube, December 4, retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HmZm8vNHBSU
4. Kerpen, C, 2013, ‘Is Social Media a Career’, Forbes magazine, July 25
5. McCarthy, N, 2014, ‘Music Streaming Revenues Take Over CD Sales in US’, Forbes magazine, September 9.
6. Miles, A, 2007, ‘Network Literacy: The New Path to Knowledge’, Screen Education Autumn.45: 24–30.
7. Sketchie, 2014, ‘Lincoln Humpheries ALS Nomination’, Youtube, August 22, retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=la86Dr4Nzpw
8. 2014, ‘Yearly Domestic Gross’, retrieved from http://pro.boxoffice.com/statistics/yearly