The latest work from Indiana University professor and journalism researcher Mark Deuze is a must-read — a precisely written treatise on why today’s media professional will have to, at some point, collaborate with his audience to tell stories.
Towards Professional Participatory Storytelling: Mapping the Potential
By Mark Deuze, Indiana University
Abstract: The impact of the Internet on the professional identity of media professionals whose work is defined by creative storytelling — whether in advertising, journalism, public relations or related fields — is the theme of this presentation. The central question raised is to what extent storytelling can be content- or connectivity-based, and what level of participation is included in the narrative experience. This presentation features examples and analyses of contemporary media work between content versus connectivity, and between moderated versus unmoderated participatory communication.
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Presented at: MiT4: The Work of Stories; May 6-8, 2005; MIT, Cambridge, Mass.
• Also posted on peer review journal, First Monday
"It could be argued that media users never existed as audiences — people were framed that way for a brief moment in time one may call the 20th century. However, almost all of the professional and scholarly literature on journalism and advertising in the United States and The Netherlands consolidated and reified the notion that the stories these media professionals were expected to tell served to inform, persuade, entertain and enlighten an otherwise more or less anonymous ‘mass’ audience. To some extent this accounts for the top-down, (informally) hierarchical, routinized and bureaucratized organization of news companies and advertising agencies — a physical and social organization that by its sheer culture of doing things seems to exclude multiple-way communication or any kind of meaningful dialogue between media users and producers.Other Mark Deuze links:
“In other words: in a contemporary ecology where American and Dutch people of every ilk seem to be immersing themselves almost constantly in media, the people still earning the bulk of their salaries producing media content do not or even cannot see them as their peers.”
“Audiences, clients, sources and publics are the Other, kept at bay by structural couplings — as professed in mantras like ‘serving the public’ or ‘creating added value for the customer’ — but cannot be considered to have any direct role in the everyday praxis of media work. Surveys among journalists in The Netherlands and the United States for example show how they appreciate and value feedback from members of the audience, but that these reporters and editors at the same time would not change their ways of doing things on the basis of critical feedback received from the public.
“The literature on journalism and advertising suggests that ultimately media workers primarily seek recognition and acclaim only from their colleagues and not necessarily from citizens or consumers.”
“A continuation of existing models of professional identity is meaningless unless it coincides with a radical reworking of the basic premises underlying our concept of professional identity in the media industry. I would like to argue that a future professional identity of media work could only be maintained if it includes a participatory culture as for example indicated by a notion of storytelling as a collaborative experience embedded in is mode of operation. In other words: Advertisers and journalists should be trained to think about the stories they tell as co-created with people who they used to name (and thus effectively excluded as) audiences, users, consumers or citizens, but who are now Rosen’s aforementioned ‘egocasters,’ living in a thoroughly individualized culture dominated by personal technologies (like the cell phone, the laptop computer, the digital video recorder and the ubiquitous remote control), annotating and assembling their own, highly customized reality through the media."
Other interesting research presented at MiT4:
• Digital Stories of Community: Mobilization, Coherence and Continuity (PDF, 181kb)
• How Story Can Tell Games: Narrative and Micronarrative as Components of Game Experience (PDF, 188kb)
• Blogging and Journalistic Practice (PDF, 180kb)
• Locating Story: Collaborative Community-based Located Media Production (PDF, 936kb)
• Narrative and Mobile Media (PDF, 386kb)
• The Seductive Storyteller: Authorial Decentralization and the Questionable Invitation to Play within Contemporary Narratives (PDF, 201kb)
• Tempests of the Blogosphere: Presidential Campaign Stories that Failed to Ignite Mainstream Media (PDF, 139kb)
• The Journalist in the Machine: The SeQueL to the Fourth Estate (PDF, 60kb)
• American Media Trinity: The Truth, the News, and the Presumptive Narrative (PDF, 145kb)
• Narrative Knowledge: Knowing through Storytelling (PDF, 192kb)
• The Narrative Imagination Across Media: Dreaming and Neil Gaiman’s Sandman (PDF, 96kb)