Who’s the victim?

Recently, I have become more aware of the ignorance directed towards the importance of the environment and the various things that affect it. One of things I am speaking of, is the excessive use of technology. Now, I have to be completely honest and admit that even though I was aware of the environmental impacts of technology I wasn’t completely aware of the size of the impact. In the reading titled, “Dark Clouds” the author mentions that “According to Maxwell and Miller (2012a, 3) by 2007 between 20 and 50 million of e-waste were generated annually…” (Mosco, 127). Reading this was absolutely mind boggling, because it’s easy to comprehend that dumping trash into the ocean or driving a car every day causes endangers the environment, but using a cellphone or computer every day has the ability to do that as well. These aspects of our daily lives are causing immense amounts of “stress on the environment” (Mosco, 128). By exploring these impacts on the environment, another side of journalism will be discussed as well as the impacts of the environment on journalism.

I want to first tackle data centers. “A data center is a storehouse of information, the closest the Internet has to a physical vault” (Blum, 239). Before this reading, I don’t think I had ever thought about a data center and what it entails. Data centers contain all sorts of information, such as pictures, videos, documents, and pretty much everything else that ends up on the Internet. This is a very intense idea to digest, because it is difficult to think that most of the data we produce about ourselves ends up in this giant center of information with millions of other people’s information. Now that the basic concept of a data center is out there, it is time to delve into the various environmental impacts it has. Because it is a large source of power, it has to be powered by a lot of electricity, because in “Unsustainable Journalism” the International Energy Agency approximates 400 terawatts hour per year wasted, because of cell phones staying on (Miller, 654). To think that having a cell phone wastes that much energy is insane and then the idea of how much power is needed to power a data center is quite scary. In “Dark Clouds” an example of the hazardous behavior displayed by technology companies and data centers is discussed. “It did not take long for the wow to turn to pow when a Quincy citizens’ group took legal action against Microsoft for pollution spewing from forty diesel generators as is common at data centers…” (Mosco, 124). This is just one example of the dangerous actions conveyed by data centers and big companies dealing with technology.

In “Unsustainable Journalism” the negative impacts on the environment caused by technology is discussed, as well as how it ties into journalism. Because journalism has been in a decline for some time, at times the focus can be redirected to focus on other problems such as the environment. In this reading both of these concepts are addressed; environmental impacts and the conflicting point of interest. Even though it is important to note that e-waste is a big environmental problem, it often times steers the focus away from journalism and the impact that that has on our society. As Miller states, “… journalists should do less research, less travel, less interaction, less recording, and less writing…” (Miller 660) in order to become more “sustainable” but in terms this creates a negative impact on the journalism aspect. By retreating into these anti-tech ways of managing unsustainability, the world may be better off, but what would happen to all of the information journalists gather to further the knowledge of the public? There are so many aspects to journalism and the utilization of technology in society, and trying to have a main focus becomes more and more of a struggle with every passing year.

Even though I completely support action against the unsustainable practices of data centers and major companies, I also believe that there is more to the grand scheme of things that we sometimes forget, once the environment becomes a part of the equation. The elusive cloud and data centers carry a lot more baggage than is perceived through the media, but it is their job to draw the attention away from the harsh reality from the general public and to continue with what they know. What I find to be conflicting about the environment tied in with journalism, is that when newspapers were more popular there was the thought of deforestation, creating a bigger demand for digital journalism. However now that digital journalism has increased in popularity there is now the issue with e-waste, which also harms the environment. In this case I don’t think there is a clear winner, because either way the environment is at risk, but all we can do is be more aware and tweak the daily habits we have, starting with our cell phones and computers.

Blum, Andrew. Where Data Sleeps, “Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet.” New York: Ecco, 2012.

Mosco, Vincent. Dark Clouds, To the cloud: Big data in a turbulent world. Routledge, 2015.

Miller, Toby. Unsustainable Journalism, Digital Journalism. 3:5, 653-663, 2015.

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Filtered to the point of no return

Through the use of photojournalism the extent of reality then has the ability to become distorted to the public’s eye. Nowadays there are several ways to manipulate a photo to your preference such as Photoshop, Instagram, and VISCO. Before reading the articles: News Images on Instagram: the Paradox of Authenticity in Hyperreal Photo Reportage and Mini Camera and Maxi Minds: Citizen Photojournalism and the Public Sphere, I had never taken the serious impact of the manipulation of photos into account. Photography, in my mind, is viewed as a way of capturing a moment in time to further the knowledge to the public. However, photos aren’t simply put on display for the public as soon as it happens, and because of that there is room for manipulation and distortion to the authenticity of the photograph. This correlates with the term “hyperreal” which is “… a version of the world that is assumed to be real but it nonetheless distorted and exaggerated to the extent that it becomes hyperreal” (Borges-Rey 577). Now that this concept comes into play it becomes more difficult to distinguish the line in which not to cross. As we talked about hyperreal photos I started to think, “Is it better to have a hyperreal photo in circulation to the public or no photography at all? With this question in mind I found myself debating with the boundaries of photojournalism, so then I turned to the readings to help with that determination.

Often times the public relies on photography to dish out the cold hard truth with what is happening in the world. Before digital imaging was in practice, the photograph that was placed in front of you in the newspaper or on TV was, most likely, untouched and preserved its authenticity. On the other hand, it may not have been as clear as some of the images we see today used to circulate information. As Borges-Rey stated, “The presence of grainy pixels gives greater authenticity” (Borges-Rey 574) demonstrating how times have changed in the world of photojournalism. News reporting platforms such as CNN IReport has very clear images to go with their stories, but the extent of which it was manipulated is unknown to the public. This is a bit scary, because in a sense I feel like I am being lied to when looking for reliable news. According to Paschalidis,

“…. Seamless manipulation of photographs, he argues, would undermine photography’s long-established perception as “a generally trustworthy unbiased transcriber of reality” and shake public trust in the traditionally prized accuracy and veracity of journalistic and documentary photographs” (Paschalidis 637)

This quote encompasses the issue with the integrity when using photos in journalism nowadays and how it is difficult to know when to trust a source, because it can be so easily manipulated for the public.

Instagram and Photoshop are two outlets in which photos can become distorted and are commonly used in today’s society. I am quite fond of Instagram, but thinking back to all the times in which I utilized a filter to make myself look better or to make the background seem more vibrant to generate likes is disheartening. Photoshop has generated controversy over the years, because it’s been used to change the appearance of people’s bodies in order to sell a product or endorse an idea. Another example of distorting photos is through the use of Snapchat. Snapchat is known for having filters to enhance the “average” picture. Often times I will use filters to make myself look slimmer or to erase any imperfections on my face. By doing this I am messing with people’s perception of myself and that is something I am started to notice all over the media.

There are professional photographers and there are amateur photographers, a distinction is present, but today that distinction is being blurred. Even though I am still learning and understanding citizen journalism, I would have never thought about the implications toward photojournalism; even though photographs are so prominent in the news in which we see every day. The art of manipulation is practiced by most, whether it is inherent or accidental. As Paschalidis states, “The crisis of photojournalism due to digital imaging has been making headlines for the past three decades” (Paschalidis 637) showing the strong impact it has been having on society for some time. Ethics have even been questioned on this subject because as stated above, there are boundaries in photojournalism, but determining what is too far takes more investigation as photography becomes even more integrated into our society. Even though I am aware of photojournalism, there are so many aspects that need to be investigated to fully understand the dos and don’ts of photography used in journalism.

 

Borges-Rey, Eddy. “News Images on Instagram: The paradox of authenticity in hyperreal photo reportage.” Digital Journalism 3.4 (2015): 571-593.

Paschalidis, Gregory. “Mini Cameras and Maxi Minds: Citizen photojournalism and the public sphere.” Digital Journalism 3.4 (2015): 634-652.

Involved citizens or wannabe Journalists?

 

The lack of citizen involvement in political discourse gives rise to the concept of citizen journalism and the decline of journalism. The Internet and technology, in general, is ever evolving, meaning that professions such as journalism have declined in our society. As journalism has declined, some of the information relayed from these sources has been now put in the hands of everyday people such as myself. Citizen journalism has been put into practice more often as technology becomes more advanced each year. However with the expanding internet, there is a lot of information that is circulating out there, but not everyone and everything is reliable enough to relay that knowledge to the public’s knowledge. Who’s to say we can trust just any citizen to tell us vital information that could possibly affect our lives. Take this past election for example, there were so many stories being thrown at the public and it became exhausting to decipher factual and contextual sources from the false and attention grabbing sources. What used to be a profession has now turned into taking a photo or video on an iPhone and then getting that information out as fast as possible to whomever reaches it first.

 

In this day and age, there are ways to disseminate information to the public, whether it is true or not, but rather focused on what is able to grab the public’s attention. Citizen journalism as discussed in Luke Goode’s article titled, “ Social News, Citizen Journalism, and Democracy” says, “…the definition of citizen journalism does not have completely settled boundaries” (Lasica, 2003). There’s a vast majority of people in this world with a phone or access to some sort of technological device, which has the ability to record and distribute information. As previously discussed in various articles, defining citizen journalism is quite difficult, because it can be viewed as simply as recording something on a phone or actually posting a comment or review on something that has happened. As Clay Shirky states, “The future presented by the Internet is the mass amateurization of publishing and a switch from “Why publish this?” to “Why not?”” (Shirky, 8). With the evolving presence of the Internet, citizen journalism has become a method in which the public has the ability to get some kind of information, without the restrictions and imitations that professional journalists deal with.

 

Luke Goode discusses that it is important to bring awareness to events that may be unknown to the public which in turn, “…constitutes a vital democratic function of professional journalism (and to a lesser extent, some variants of citizen journalism)” (Goode, 1290). I think that at times the public can be discouraged at the way aspects of our political system are handled, so the involvement begins to disappear.  I strongly believe that this is one of the reasons citizen journalism has become up and coming since the decline of journalism. With more and more people taking on some kind of responsibility with informing the public, the divide between good quality information and falsified information will start to blend to the point in which no one will be able to tell the difference. I do not think that we have reached that level in which the line is blurred indefinitely, but with the lack of involvement as citizens, there is a good chance that this may occur. The line of distinction is starting to fade and the lack of care and involvement doesn’t help.

 

 Goode and Shirky discuss journalism and the unfortunate lack of it as a profession, as the world becomes more involved in technology and the internet. Although Shirky does not specifically go into citizen journalism like Goode does, Shirky presents the idea that anyone can become a journalist, which is what I consider to be a part of citizen journalism, because people nowadays have the capability to spread information and make it known to the public. Political involvement is increasingly important in society calling for the need for an educated public, but determining who to trust for information is becoming increasingly important too. In Shirky’s article I was able to get a sense of what is happening to the profession of journalism and in Goode’s article I learned that citizen journalism is becoming more relevant in the public sphere. With both of these articles I am able to have a better grasp on how the decline of journalism has led to citizen journalism, which has the ability to affect political discourse and the public sphere as a whole.


 

Goode, Luke. “Social news, citizen journalism and democracy.” New media & society 11.8 (2009): 1287-1305.

 

Shirky, Clay. “Everyone is a media outlet.” Here comes everybody: The power of organizing without organizations (2008): 55-80.