Exercise 5: The Role of the Amateur/Individual – New Challenges in Screen Media

The ability of the amateur individual to shape the media landscape has undergone seismic changes in recent years. With the recent advances in technology and the relative lower costs of digital cameras, mobile phones and tablets along with online software  editing tools, Apps, Photoshop, it is now easier than ever for the amateur to not only create content but to distribute it online to social media platforms like: YouTube, Facebook, blogs, Instagram, Twitter, etc. These platforms allows you, the individual, to be part of an online community and also encourages you to share, read, suggest other areas of interest that cater for the individual or group.

Some of these can be expressed in the popular culture of fandom sites. Here fans of music or film for example can review and express themselves to others in a global context. These can take the form of their own video mashups, which can be seen as parody or political, or songs can be reedited and mixed forming new ideas and creativity. This in turn is noticed by the professional companies who keenly take notice of this ground swell movement. Up to recently we are accustomed to the older traditional form like in the Hollywood movie system where it was Studio and producer driven in a hierarchical linear format from the top down.

The participatory culture of private individuals are not only consumers but contributors and producers know as prosumers. Because of the news advance in technology it has in a sense inadvertently created a new culture of young Web 2.0 people who have found a new meaning and identity that has taken the professional producers by surprise. The  quality from the amateur can be so good that there are now blurred lined between the professional and the individual. Indeed such is the power of the amateur the shape the new landscape has been completely redrawn.

Some of the new groups formed have formed into activists groups that use the online platforms to make change in the society and world politics. Most of these have no professional training. Groups like: Anonymous, Occupy Wall Street, Oscar so white, The Arab Spring, Cassette Boy etc.


One case study worthy of mention in an educational context is that of a young American student, Heather Lawver. She created an online publication to improve the reading and writing abilities of the younger generation. The project grew to a global audience and integrated into the school curriculum. The new challenges in the screen media is to embrace rather than confront it. As with everything else economics will eventually decide the future of the new media world. As media scholar Henry Jenkins remarked, “The media landscape will be reshaped by the bottom-up energy of media created by amateurs and hobbyists as a matter of course. This bottom up energy will generate enormous creativity, but it will also tear apart some of the categories that organize the lives and work of media makers…”












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