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100 articles – ‘The people formerly known as the audience’

In an ever-changing media landscape, the role of the audience has shifted dramatically. Once passive consumers can now become active content producers. Jay Rosen's piece about media audiences of today is one of the 100 articles every journalist should read, says Maike Winters.

‘The people formerly known as the audience’ by Jay Rosen

Jay Rosen, professor of journalism at New York University, wrote this article back in 2006, which, in this rapidly shifting media world, is quite a while ago. I think this article can be seen as a milestone in the way the audience was and is now perceived.

Where the audience used to be the silent receiver of the media, nowadays they are not so silent anymore. They are screaming for the media that they demand – only the pieces they are interested in and only when it suits them. 

All this information sounds natural to us, students in this period. But for many journalists, the ones that worked so long and so hard in the old style journalism, where the audience almost never gave feedback, this is a shocking development. 

A couple of months ago I talked to somebody from the biggest Dutch newspaper. He told me about the good old times, when money was no problem and you could be as creative as you wanted with your stories. He found that journalism wasn’t the same anymore and that he started hating his job. I asked him if he used social networks online, ‘Of course not’ was his answer. I asked him to read this article and call me back. He never did.

Maike Winters is a Master of Global Communications student at La Trobe University. This piece is part of the ‘100 articles’ project. To see the list so far or to learn more about the project, click here.

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