On February 2012, Claudia Vago, an Italian “Twitter celebrity” without any background in journalism, was crowdfunded to cover the Occupy Wall Street movement activities in New York and Chicago. Her story is an interesting case for the investigation of the ongoing process of re-negotiation of roles, statuses and balances of power involving the whole Italian information ecosystem. The present chapter thus aims at enriching the debate around crowdunded journalism by introducing the dimension of microcelebrity (Senft 2008, 2013) developed within online enviroments and by adopting a systemic approach that consider the reactions to Claudia’s pitch not only by those who funded TOWS but by the broad online media ecosystem. In this way we show that a crowdfunding initiative might generate also conflicts, resistances and tensions within communities and systems. Indeed, by analyzing the different readings of TOWS and Claudia by the crowdfunders, by the media covering the initiative and by various communities inhabiting the Italian online ecosystem, we will show that the case of Claudia demonstrates how new figures are emerging within journalism ecosystems, staying at the intersection between different media fields without being accepted as a full member within any of them. We will argue that the success of Claudias’s journalistic crowdfunding –as well as the strong criticisms it received - prove that authority developed by these newcomers can be capitalized and spent on different territories, apparently without disorienting their supporters but at the same time generating tense conflicts within the broad system. More specifically, we will show how all the subjects and communities who discussed online around TOWS were also debating whether monetizing the popularity developed within a pro-am (a hybrid between professional and amateur, see Boccia Artieri 2012) media environment through crowdfunding should be considered as the very realization of a web “gift based” economy or a betrayal of it. A gift economy is a logic based on transactions involving more social relations rather than monetary profits or personal gains (Pearson 2007). Financing a crowdfunding initiative launched by an online “friend” can assume the value of a symbolic reward which emphasizes more the bond of trust and affection with the proponent, rather than representing an economic material investment. At the same time, the whole campaign could be seen as an attempt, by the proponent, to unfairly monetize such capitals of trust.

Is it fair to monetize microcelebrity? Mapping reactions to a crowdfunding campaign launched by an Italian Twitter-star

VALERIANI, AUGUSTO
2015

Abstract

On February 2012, Claudia Vago, an Italian “Twitter celebrity” without any background in journalism, was crowdfunded to cover the Occupy Wall Street movement activities in New York and Chicago. Her story is an interesting case for the investigation of the ongoing process of re-negotiation of roles, statuses and balances of power involving the whole Italian information ecosystem. The present chapter thus aims at enriching the debate around crowdunded journalism by introducing the dimension of microcelebrity (Senft 2008, 2013) developed within online enviroments and by adopting a systemic approach that consider the reactions to Claudia’s pitch not only by those who funded TOWS but by the broad online media ecosystem. In this way we show that a crowdfunding initiative might generate also conflicts, resistances and tensions within communities and systems. Indeed, by analyzing the different readings of TOWS and Claudia by the crowdfunders, by the media covering the initiative and by various communities inhabiting the Italian online ecosystem, we will show that the case of Claudia demonstrates how new figures are emerging within journalism ecosystems, staying at the intersection between different media fields without being accepted as a full member within any of them. We will argue that the success of Claudias’s journalistic crowdfunding –as well as the strong criticisms it received - prove that authority developed by these newcomers can be capitalized and spent on different territories, apparently without disorienting their supporters but at the same time generating tense conflicts within the broad system. More specifically, we will show how all the subjects and communities who discussed online around TOWS were also debating whether monetizing the popularity developed within a pro-am (a hybrid between professional and amateur, see Boccia Artieri 2012) media environment through crowdfunding should be considered as the very realization of a web “gift based” economy or a betrayal of it. A gift economy is a logic based on transactions involving more social relations rather than monetary profits or personal gains (Pearson 2007). Financing a crowdfunding initiative launched by an online “friend” can assume the value of a symbolic reward which emphasizes more the bond of trust and affection with the proponent, rather than representing an economic material investment. At the same time, the whole campaign could be seen as an attempt, by the proponent, to unfairly monetize such capitals of trust.
2015
Crowdfunding the Future. Media Industry, Ethics and Digital Society
117
132
Giovanni Boccia Artieri; Augusto Valeriani
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11585/485771
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