Tandoc Jr. and Thomas (2015) warn journalists for getting too occupied with public opinion by solely choosing subjects based on what is ‘click-worthy’. The authors think if media starts working in this way some of the key roles journalists play in society will be lost.
Although I agree that journalists must be wary of over-popularizing their work, I think the increased influence of audiences can account for some positive and much-needed change within the realm of media.
Last April, Edward Enninful, was confirmed as the new editor-in-chief for British Vogue. As a black and gay man his positioning was quite a change from his predecessor, Alexandra Shulman, who served as editor-in-chief at the magazine for 25 years. In recent years, British Vogue, as well as other countries’ issues, have been under fire from the public for holding on to a notion of society that is seen by many as outdated: very little diversity, a focus on white and skinny models. Of the 306 covers she made, only eleven featured women of color.
Take for example her final cover, the September 2017 issue. It featured a group portrait of five models, all of them willowy, four of them white. The public was not impressed. As one reporter put it: “it may feature one Moroccan model but aren’t we sick to death, in 2017, of seeing white, willowy models on the front of the magazine?”
With Enninful, Vogue has chosen to take readers’ comments serious. Enninful is a Ghanian immigrant. Where Shulman’s team was very white, Enninful has been quick bring more diversity to the Vogue office. The first issue shows a diversity of women in terms of color, background and shape. I think this shows how the growing influence should not just frighten journalists, but perhaps push them to move away from historical, exclusive models.
Edson C. Tandoc Jr. & Ryan J. Thomas (2015). The Ethics of Web Analytics. Digital Journalism, 3:2, pp. 243-258.