Super Media – Charlie Beckett

I wanted to have a good understanding of media techniques along with my understanding of photojournalism as photojournalism itself is a form of media. I was aware that the whole book wouldn’t be necessarily as useful as a photography text however I wanted to research in the area of media to have a comprehensive and thorough understanding of the medium of reportage. My notes and evaluation can be seen below:

  • Networked journalism proposes there are advantages for taking the opportunity of collaboration – we can do more together than we can apart
  • Networked journalism is born out of opportunity and also out of need
  • The tools journalists are using are constantly expanding for example blogs allow anyone to publish and contribute and mobiles let anyone share what they witness
  • The natural state of media is two way and collaborative
  • Journalism becomes more open, transparent and flexible
  • Journalism shouldn’t be defined by who does it but by the actual content
  • Three stories convinced Beckett that journalism has changed: Danish cartoons, Africa and London Bombings
  • Media has the power to shape society and events so we need to care about the future of journalism
  • Journalists will always be different, you need to compare each journalist’s experience
  • Journalists are supposed to remain objective however more often than not they will have a partial view
  • The public tend to have an opinion of the media based on the last one they experienced
  • There’s an increase of free news media
  • The potential of journalism is greater however the quality needs to be maintained as it is under threat
  • Fragmentation can cause the quality to waiver
  • Sometimes the threat will come from commercial or political forces
  • Our interconnected world means we are reliant on information
  • Journalism can alter the course of events as well as narrate them
  • Media is also partial, sometimes there are instances where information is withheld by authorities
  • Journalism is changing for social, economic and technological reaons
  • Networked journalism includes citizens, interactivity, open sourcing, wikis, blogging and social networking
  • Likening media to the environment and suggesting it can become polluted – Roger Silvermoon
  • Print media is declining (a symptom of illness?)
  • Is the world of cybermedia going to be run by citizen journalism?
  • When our journey quickens it’s hard to find our feet and keep track
  • There are certain new phrases associated with new media
  • New technology and political liberalisation gives the public a greater role
  • Networked journalism = demand for journalism and social utility
  • Distinctions between amateur, producer, product, audience and participation are broken down and blurred
  • Networked journalism is the semantic divide between old media and new media
  • Tom Armitage introduced the term “Next Media”
  • Netroot: political activism on blog and social media (Jerome Armstrong 2002)
  • Global challenge to journalism is it’s ability to deal with complex narratives of terror and community
  • Media should be more diverse but it is under threat from being thin and fragmented
  • Media literacy is extremely important, the practitioners must be equipped for the task
  • People should be given the skills, tools to interact and produce critical journalism
  • All journalists must have a sense of responsibility and their rights including networked journalists, they must have a sense of objectivity and what truth is
  • Journalists don’t really have a choice, their work is likely to become networked
  • If everyone can realise the potential of digital news media then media could become “super” in nature
  • Journalism isn’t a safe career anymore, hundreds have lost their job
  • The introduction of technology and efficiency has changed the business model
  • This could be considered a revolution however revolutions historically don’t succeed
  • Polis (research into journalism and society at London School of Economics) different media markets are moving at different speeds
  • Not all changes are because of the technology, Lads mags grew rapidly then declined because of socio-economic change, they fell away because of online material
  • There is a parallel revolution, journalism is becoming cheaper because of mobile phones and video cameras – producers have cut their costs by cutting people
  • Traditional media are more sophisticated and can be made at a lower price due to technology
  • Technology produces platforms that are accessible to online viewers and readers
  • Journalism is now distributed through computers and smartphones
  • The rise of online journalism presents economical challenges to news media – Google and YouTube are the most powerful companies and also influential in journalism
  • Public interest has also shifted and conventional media has been slow to address this
  • Two approaches – to defend old media and to investigate the potential of new media
  • Need to understand old from new and be able to track changes
  • What is the degree at which journalism is operating online
  • There are 100 million blogs tracked by Technrati
  • Blogs versus Journalists – bloggers tend to be more opinionated and can engage through the media through comments
  • The difference between personal/journalist bloggers is becoming blurred
  • Estimated 6.6 billion people are online
  • Presence of hand held devices have increased
  • Largest media outlets now include Google and Disney
  • Wholly online news sites can range from academic sources like and some are built up of collated public information
  • People are still reading newspapers they aren’t obsolete, in 2006 sales were up but gradually TV began to take over
  • Mainstream media is typically on print or TV and has some support still as not everyone wants to watch the news on their phone
  • Radio has continued to flourish because the nature of it fits in with the modern lifestyle
  • Continuation of mainstream media is down to the skills and experience of it’s participators – Channel 4 News continues to thrive, content and quality is key
  • Main stream media audience is declining
  • Sometimes the audience isn’t transferring online, it is disappearing completely
  • Advertising has completely changed, it is invasive online and interferes with the online experience
  • Culture is loosing interest in conventional media – the audience gets news from ‘spoof’ programs such as Mock The Week
  • Young audiences are getting news from friends and social media – one third of all YouTubers are between 18 and 24 and Facebook/Twitter offers a sense of community
  • Revenue generation is harder online because the audience wants free information, this is similar for TV
  • Organisations like Sky use TV and Film to get customers in, the news channel alone doesn’t attract the audience
  • Fragmentation is a result of more choice in the digital and online world of media
  • More outlets don’t necessarily mean a better knowledge or service
  • Ethnic minorities statistically are the first to leave mainstream media (perhaps they feel they have been misrepresented)
  • Although the quantity of producers has increased, the diversity has not
  • Journalism is competitive, each trying to create a feeling of community
  • Because of the reduced cost of printing, newspapers are often given out for free
  • Journalism is always accused of lacking quality
  • Changes in media have social effects and this in turn shapes journalism
  • Suggests that journalism has been ‘dumbed down’ to appeal to the masses
  • Public services are in retreat, the budget cutes have put a squeeze on activity
  • Just taking journalism online is not the answer


This book has been incredibly insightful and there are a number of comparisons that can be made between journalism and photojournalism in terms of the changing nature. Comparative to photojournalism, journalism has become collaborative in the digital age, Beckett introduces the term ‘networked journalism’ which is a term I definitely plan to reference in my research paper. The idea of working to maintain quality in media is a concept other writers have touched on such as Fred Ritchin therefore I can use his and Beckett’s ideology together to comment on this subject. The fact that the London bombings was another case study makes me consider using it in my research paper as a case study for the changing tools of professional photojournalism where the photographer reverted to the phone to take the images. I am also interested in the dualism between conventional media and social media as the relationship is challenging; where social media attracts a younger audience and appears to disseminate information effectively, there is the notion that conventional media contains objective content of a better quality because social media tends to be more subjective. This is definitely a comparison I want to address however it’s not important enough to feature in heavily in my research paper so I plan to dedicate an independent blog post to it. Overall this book has been really beneficial in terms of gaining knowledge in relation to media as a whole, not just photojournalism and it is evident that the some of the same complexities are present in photojournalism are also present in journalism. I will definitely be using the ideology from Beckett in my research paper and further in my blogging in association to citizen journalism and the apparent conflict between conventional media and social media.


Reference: Beckett, C. (2008) Supermedia: saving journalism so it can save the world. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing


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