The Cultural Capital of News (Feature)
“Social media has given every person online the ability to act as an on-the-spot reporter, and all kinds of news organizations are rightly harnessing Twitter and amateur video. The question now is: Have we become the foreign bureau?”
The above comment regarding coverage of the Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami earlier this year from the Tuned In blog on Time.com provides an interesting platform to examine news as Cultural Capital.
News is essentially a feed providing critical information that influences and shapes our shared beliefs and behaviors. By its very nature it holds the highest form of Cultural Capital.
The Internet created a new facet of journalism, enabling individuals to seek information for themselves while also providing an outlet for sharing news indiscriminately -- without bias or agenda and with ownership. Indeed ever-increasing social media channels such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube build audiences of such scale that they elevate the news source to a position of authority.
As Tuned In reports, The New York Times used crowd-sourcing to give real-time reports of what was happening in Japan. Without this, it is difficult to imagine that it could have possibly provided minute-by-minute eyewitness reports. As we see advancements and great accessibility of technology, there is a greater expectation for this kind of coverage.
IT consultant Sohaid Athar is now known for inadvertently breaking the news -- via Twitter -- that Osama Bin Laden’s compound had been raided. This incident further exemplifies the idea of organic news -- information delivered without polish and restraint. It was heard in first person, as it happened and, though it wasn't his intention, Athar shared culturally relevant information with the world.
Perhaps it is a bit premature to suggest that we no longer require official media outlets, or that anyone can be a journalist. However, The New York Times is not alone in acknowledging that to be culturally relevant and to maintain Cultural Capital, the feed must include real-time information, raw footage, and unbiased coverage from a range of sources.
Even the News is News
So it seems even the news is news. In fact the debate is still a hot topic with news networks, celebrities, bloggers and everyday people questioning the objectivity or agenda of the established news. Without objectivity, news simply becomes sensationalism for commercial benefit, or worse, political propaganda. It’s no surprise that a perceived lack of objectivity fuels independent parties to share their account of ‘the truth’ as it happens.
As a result, when personalities come along who are no longer restricted by media barriers they are viewed as objective and with a constant stream of relevant content, their Cultural Capital escalates. Celebrity Blog, Perez Hilton, a passion-fueled project of site founder Mario Armando Lavandeira (originally launched in 2005 as pagesixsixsix.com) is one such example. In the early days of these types of news vehicles, there were many claims of inaccuracies (some fair, some not) and criticism of the nature of their content. But in the six years since its inception, the site's longevity speaks for Perez Hilton’s presence in the news arena.
Taking into account the numerous attendances to exclusive events, and the friendly pictures with countless famous faces, it would be fair to suggest that Lavandeira is now courted by the celebrities that once reviled him as they too come to accept his influence over public perception; of their own Cultural Capital.
A Daily Source
Jon Stewart‘s The Daily Show epitomizes the questioning nature of the national media agenda. Emphatically claiming his role as a comedian first and foremost on his recent appearance on Fox News, Stewart is arguably achieving what the press is failing to do; establishing Cultural Capital.
At the Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert “Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear” on October 30, 2010, Stewart referred to the media as, "the country’s 24-hour politico–pundit perpetual panic 'conflict-inator.”
As part of his speech he argued:
"Most Americans don’t live their lives solely as Democrats, Republicans, liberals or conservatives."
Through humor and highlighting pertinent issues of individuality and acceptance that are topical within culture, the duo inspired an attendance estimated close to 200,000. That is more than double the attendance for its inspiration Fox News Network's "Restoring Honor Rally” which pulled in an attendance of an estimated 87,000.
The Future of News
It does seem that even with the rising trend of social media as part of news, it is unlikely that the feed will exist only within this context. But it can be argued, that in order to continue to be a leading form of Cultural Capital, “news” as a cultural feed cannot ignore the relevance or importance of its growing presence, especially given its organic nature.
Ultimately news will manifest itself -- whether it is consumer generated or reported via professional channels. Its Cultural Capital remains influenced by the same factors: objectivity, authenticity and the speed of accessibility.
-Katie McKendrick (12,224 views)
Culturalcapital.tv (US blog Entry)
image @ gratisography