Am I a journalist if I have a camera and use social media?

In “Everybody is a Media Outlet”, Clay Shirky analyzes the growth of technology and its effect on the world, specifically of journalism. According to Shirky, the emergence of new technology in digital publishing has made amateurs believe they are journalists, therefore interfering with the job of actual journalists. Similarly, in “The Read-Write Web”, Dan Gillmor expands on how technology has changed journalism and how amateurs play a role. In summary, the two readings complement each other since both analyze the effect of the emergence of new technologies on journalism today, in comparison to what it was before.

According to Shirky, today, “…you no longer have to be a professional publisher to publish” (Shirky 66). To elaborate on his argument, he illustrates the importance of scribes back in the day. During the 1400s, having the ability to write was a very important achievement. It was rare. Scribes had the task to hand copy new editions of existing manuscripts, and because this was rare, they were considered irreplaceable. However, once Johannes Gutenberg invented the movable type, scribes were no longer irreplaceable. With the invention of the movable type, the reproduction of work was faster, fast enough that “…a copy of a book could be created faster than it could be read” (Shirky 67). Scribes were not as important anymore because people could perform their task easier with the movable type; therefore, Shirky believes that is the situation journalists are facing now. Internet access has increased, and with that access, people can self-publish their work globally for free. As Shirky states, “An individual with a camera or a keyboard is now a non-profit of one, and self-publishing is now the normal case” (Shirky 77). This takes away the job of journalists, since anyone can post an article or tweet about news.

To add on to Shirky’s argument, in “The Read-Write Web”, Gillmor expands on the role of the internet in journalism today. According to Gillmor, “The internet is key to be better informed because we have access to a broader variety of current information than ever before, and we can use it with increasing sophistication” (Gillmor 25). This idea of a broader access leads back to Shirky’s argument on how self-publishing is more common because today, you do not have to be a professional publisher to publish. Since the internet provides access for different tools and communication for free and globally, ordinary people can perform a journalist’s job. Today, news spread faster since it can be broadcasted on the television, through the radio, alerts on phones or tablets, allowing many people to keep up to date with the news. In particular, Gillmor mentions the role of pictures. Since most organizations of journalism employ professional photographers, according to Gillmor, that is now prevalent for non-journalists, “As cameras become just one more thing we all carry every day, everyone’s becoming a photographer” (Gillmor 34). As Shirky argued before, the development of technology has led to professional jobs becoming simpler. For example, music and movie industries did the public a favor by providing music and movies to the public, yet “…laypeople can now move music and video easily, in myriad ways that are both cheaper and more flexible than those mastered and owned by existing commercial firms, like selling CDS and DVDS in stores” (Shirky 79).

Shirky and Gillmor both focused on the idea that development of technology and its effect took professional jobs and made it simpler. While the development and increase access to the internet has benefitted people and allowed them to be more connected to the news, it also took away the importance of jobs, specifically journalists. For example, the printing press allowed for people to reproduce work faster, however it took away the importance of scribes. It intrigued me how Shirky argued that the invention of the movable type ultimately ended the scribal profession. This story is what the world faces today, not only in the realm of journalists. I found this argument interesting because applicable it is to the real world today. I learned that with my access to the internet and using my phone, I could consider myself a journalist by performing their job and tweet news or self-publish an article. Shirky and Gillmor’s argument brought up a point I did not know or consider that is prevalent in today’s society.


“Shirky_Everyone Is a Media Outlet.pdf.” Google Docs. The Penguin Press, n.d. Web. 15 Feb. 2017.

“Gillmor_The Read-Write Web_2.pdf.” Google Docs. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Feb. 2017


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