The Ecology of News and the lowest common denominator

Updated: Jul 9

Citizen journalism has been a term used to describe the participatory nature of citizens in influencing the media and news agenda. The use of mobile phones, blogs, social platforms like twitter and facebook, has given citizens the voice and tools to participate in the ecology of news and be active actors in the news manufacturing process.

The media landscape has changed tremendously. Web 2.0 is a typical term used to describe a variety of web sites and applications that allow anyone to create and share online information or material they have created. It describes a many to many relationship, where everyone is capable of being the sender, and influences communication flow and the ecosystem in our society and media landscape.

I have seen a number of interesting stories surfacing on our local news outlets recently. While this is not something unusual, there is a certain pattern in which we receive our news now. How we interact with these sources, in turn, shape our sense of social realities and perceptions about issues and topics happening in Singapore and all around the world.

We coin terms like 'Umbrage', 'Sovereign lady', 'The Mask lady', for the purpose of finding a common language which we could all resonate and share.

It is safe to say that news items are like coffeeshop talk with an ephemeral nature. As humans, we are constantly searching for interesting and evolving topics to discuss with our soul mates. And in fact, what else can we talk about if we do not talk about politics, entertainment, food, gossips, travel, family, and of late, Covid-19. Through such discourses, we make meaning of our own life and how we intend to journey till the end.

Source: Scott Pelley

The advent of Social media has definitely change the playing field. The notion that 'Everyone is a Publisher' suggests a fundamental change in the role of the media, shifting gear towards a participatory culture, one that is co-created with our audiences.


There has been a lot of discussions about the attention economy, the premise of social media focusing on generating and creating attention for the purpose of advertising. The statement 'If you are not paying as a customer, then you are the customer', reveals the hidden agenda of big tech companies in conditioning customers and letting them be glued to social platforms, through ideologies like finding fame and success with growth in followers and engagement, and the democratisation of structures and power.


The woke culture describes the mentality of the newer generation and how they embark on 'knee jerk' reactions when they face certain pertinent issues discussed on the media. The notion that 'Everyone is woken', could potentially describe the warped and inflated sense of entitlement and empowerment one gets with technology. In fact, who could we blame when there have been a lot of successful movements and ground-up initiatives won against the traditional establishments.

The notion that 'change is possible' suggests that if we were to do something about our situation, then there's hope. While such mindsets are excellent in breaking existing prejudices, norms and beliefs, and give the side-lined more power and voices, we have also unfortunately, bred a whole new generation of digital natives, who behave and operate in a totally new way and dimension.


This is the culture which we all have to be accountable and responsible of.

Are we a by-product of the media, or the media is a by-product of us?

There have been too many mass communication theories and studies focusing on the power of media and its effects on audiences. Increasingly, it seems that the evolution of the media, namely from print to radio, radio to tv, tv to internet, and internet to social media, has given rise to different audiences with every change. The medium is the message, by Marshall Mcluhan, suggests that the medium is more important than the content. And with every fundamental change in every technology, new meanings of the medium are triggered and evoked.

Everyone is a publisher, so it seems. We have been given too much power in our own hands.

The tech companies want the entire population to be on their platforms. The attention that we give to such platforms are sold to big conglomerates and companies willing to trade money for our attention. This is the end goal for a capitalistic reason. To bring profits for the investors. To get more users in and get the whole world writing, the whole world responding, the whole world interacting. It's a global village.

How about the traditional news makers like journalists, editors, you might ask? In fact, media companies and practitioners have been adjusting to this new