Crowdsourcing and Indie Media

I was particularly struck by the Washington Post article about the founding of Brave New Films and the use of crowdsourcing to fund films. In 2006, the film “Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers” was funded by contribution.

While reading this article I realized that in 2015 it is very common to see filmmakers asking for money to produce their films. There are fundraising pages all over the internet with people’s pitches. Students at Ithaca College use similar methods to fund their films. Crowdsourcing is currently a popular idea, but it wasn’t always.

The ability to reach out to a community for money is a powerful tool. Especially now with the vast reach of the internet, it is not necessary to be wealthy in order to successfully make a vision into a reality. This funding method is characteristic of modern independent media in that it is not pulling money from a higher source, but rather from a collaborative audience.

As the journalistic and artistic world becomes more connected, it will be interesting to see how else crowd funding is used. Will authors, painters, photographers and designers also be commonly fundraising for their project ideas? This could potentially revolutionize the way we look at content creation as a whole.

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Crowdsourcing and Indie Media

The Conversation About Racial Portrayals

I found this Al Jazeera opinion article on how Muslims are portrayed in the Western media particularly fascinating. The author, Mohamad Elmasry, wrote this commentary following the shooting at Chapel Hill, in which three Muslim American students were killed in a dorm room.

Elmasry writes, “Western media outlets will likely frame the most recent perpetrator of what some speculate is an anti-Muslim crime in the same way they frame most anti-Muslim criminals – as crazed, misguided bigots who acted alone.”

The article goes on to discuss the pattern of stereotyping regarding Muslims in the western media. This includes both news media and movies.

The article got me thinking about the seriousness of racial stereotyping problems in western media. The western filter is often very consistent in the way it chooses to skew certain groups of people. I have previously researched the western view on the Rwandan Genocide and the conflict was completely mischaracterized. This is a pattern with other situations as well.

I believe that this issue needs to come to the forefront of media conversations. The western media does not have the right to characterize a culture. It only leads to misunderstanding, stereotypes and lack of clarity.

The Conversation About Racial Portrayals

Opening Opportunities with New Media

Arianna Huffington wrote a commentary several years ago about the connecting power of new forms of digital media. She writes that blogs, social media and real-time communication via videos and photos are changing the way that we are able to witness events. This article was published in 2009, and the concepts hold even more truth today.

These forms of communication suddenly take the filtering power out of the hands of the media. Rather than seeing these events through the lens of the big media companies, we are able to see first-hand accounts and interpret the events ourselves.

This opportunity to interpret is extremely powerful. Raw footage does not have political leaning. It does not have buzzwords attached to it. With these primary accounts we gain an understanding for what is happening in it’s true form. Citizen journalism may be the future of journalism. And that is a very exciting concept.

Opening Opportunities with New Media

Tavi Gevinson – Independent Thinking, Independent Media

A friend of mine sent me this video recently and I found it very compelling. In the video, she discusses the beginning of her entrepreneurial career and the importance of human-driven media consumption. I have been following Tavi Gevinson for several years and have been inspired by her drive and creative mind.

Gevinson’s career began out of a classic, independent media mindset: she saw a gap in the current media available, and she filled this gap. Gevinson started her blog Style Rookie in 2008 and Rookie Magazine in 2011 after seeing a lack of media aimed at teenage girls.

From that point on, she launched a platform for teenage girls to have their voices heard and provided a platform for female, teenage interest pieces. Gevinson’s fearless, independent thinking brought on Rookie Mag’s success and opened up independent media to a new demographic.

Tavi Gevinson – Independent Thinking, Independent Media

Blogger-Reader Relationships Changing the Future of Investigative Reporting

This article by Will Bunch discusses the techniques used by the Polk Award winning Talking Points Memo in its muckraking journalism. Bunch discusses a specific case, when TPM blogger Justin Rood wrote a story in a San Diego newspaper in which a US Attorney was asked to step down for “failing to make smuggling and gun cases a top priority.” Rood was skeptical, so he teamed up with TPM founder Josh Marshall to uncover the truth.

With the growing popularity of the blogosphere, Rood and Marshall reached out to readers for tips on whether other US attorneys had been fired in a similar fashion. The investigation grew and made its way to the senate. After the senate speech, the following occurred:

“Paul Kiel, another TPM blogger, seized on a comment made by Feinstein and produced a bona fide scoop: Republicans had snuck a provision into the supposedly anti-terror USA Patriot Act to bypass the Senate on new U.S. attorney appointments. It seemed suspicious – prosecutors being fired for cracking down on Republican corruption, and provisions being slipped into a bill to bypass a Democrat-controlled Senate confirmation process.”

This investigation began and continued thanks to TPM’s initiative to reach out to readers. What does this mean for the future of investigative reporting?

The open relationship between a blogger and the readers creates a trust that does not exist through the wall of the mainstream reporter-reader relationship. There is commentary and transparency that does not exist elsewhere. The blogger builds credibility through sourcing and a transparent investigative process. The readers, once committed to visiting the blog site, capitalize on this trust by commenting, sharing and assisting the blogger in investigation. It is a mutually beneficial relationship. Both parties have the opportunity to gain and produce information.

It will be interesting to see how bloggers as reporters develop in the future. As news consumers begin to put their trust in the hands of these independent bloggers and out of the hands of the mainstream media, we will likely see a complete change in reporting as we know it. The news environment will convert from a professional-controlled curation of information to a collaboration of humans on the web.

Blogger-Reader Relationships Changing the Future of Investigative Reporting