Thanks to the internet anyone can be a journalist – providing they are among the lucky minority of the global population that has internet access. Anyone can write a story, shoot a video, take a photo, and then post their work for the world to see. For those of us who are looking for alternatives to the mainstream media we can find them on independent websites, Facebook pages, blogs and tweets, as well as in more conventional media such as journals and independent radio stations. Many websites offer excellent sources of information, commentary, analysis and discussion, and even the mainstream media increasingly invites online commentary.
The internet has also brought problems, including the dangers associated with surveillance by government agencies, data collection for marketing purposes, bullying and cyber crime. Perhaps the greatest risk is that the internet, which has seemed to promise the possibility of universal communication, could be increasingly censored, limited and controlled by a handful of corporate or national interests. Whatever the outcome, the question of internet governance and freedom will be one of the most important debates of our time.
Social media has become an important part of the media landscape. “News” can now originate on social networking sites or blogs. A tweet between two people can quickly spread across the internet and then subsequently be picked up by the alternative and mainstream media.