Mass media and Celebrity in the Digital age

Burgess and Green argue that: ordinary people who become celebrities through their own creative efforts “remain within the system of celebrity native to, and controlled by, the mass media” (Reader, page 269)

Nick Goudry argued that ordinary citizen and celebrity could only be bridged through the access of mass media (Burgess and Green cited in Nick Goudry, 2009, 22). With the countless celebrities that come out from the YouTube, mass media is under redefinition through the interface of new media, as Burgess and Green added that YouTube is significantly embodied with the feature of “media world” function as a star factory (Burgess and Green, 23). For some instant, it is similar to the TV program Britain got talent, but, with millions more judgers and audiences. The new media platform of YouTube has increasingly blended into the arenas of mass media, not only by promoting the advertisements, but has also officially cooperated with the major mass media companies, such as BBC and CBS (Weber, 2007).

In this blog, Natalie Tyler Tran will be used as a case study to analysis the relationship between the YouTube celebrities and mass media. One of her recent video is embedded as to clarify the argument (YouTube, 2011a).

Tran has begun with Vlogging in YouTube since 2006 in her “community channel”, and win the most subscribed in the region of Australian (YouTube, 2011b) and the 26th most subscribed channel in worldwide (YouTube, 2011c). Her popularity in YouTube soon enhanced her mass media coverage, for instance, she has respectively appeared in Sydney Morning Herald, Western Australia Today and B&T Magazine (Tylertran, 2007).

As a result, her grown statue as a celebrity is remarkably kept within the ordinary system of mass media, which able to obtain a commercial revenue by expose and exploit the popularity of Tran. However, the success has also positioning her in a role for gate-keeping the mechanism of the mass media (Burgess and Green, 24), for instance, the advertisement board displayed in her Channel.

In addition, stressed from the mass media circulation, Tran needs to constantly update with the YouTube videos to maintain the popularity that is the key element to ensure her the media coverage. Thus, “vernacular creative” was utilized as the approach within her video to ensured the popularity (Burgess and Green, 2009, 26), for example, the adaptation of digital techniques in presenting the two Tran’s in-car conversation, and the realistic representation of the Google map. However, it has to point out that the exploitation of new media platforms such as Facebook and twitter that represented in her video has become a tool for her to resistant with the control of the mass media. Thus, if YouTube is the Entertainment Company she assigns to, rather then predominately controlled by one company, she is free to dedicated and cooperate with the others.

Through the Internet platform of YouTube, Tran is able to read the comments or video from her fans, in addition to interact with them, it can be suggested that the social network as a form of new media, has empowered its celebrity with more freedom to communicate with the fans, this kind of close encounter has enhanced the portrayal of “ordinary celebrity”, which Burgess and Green (2009,23) stated as the “demotic turn” adapted by the mass media. However, it is also a “digital turn” for the mass media in the era of Web 2.0, when Internet sharing websites are manifesto the new meanings to for the “mass media”, being the media of the masses.


Burgess, Jean & Green,  Joshua . 2009, “YouTube and The Mainstream Media” in YouTube: Online and Participatory Culture, Cambridge: Polity Press. Pp-15-37

Tylertran, Natalie , 2007,”Who is Natalie Tyler Tran?” in Natalie Tylertran’s blog, accessed in 30th of May, from

Weber, Tim. 2007. “BBC strikes Google-YouTube deal” in BBC news, accessed in 30th of May, from

YouTube (2011a) “Googlemaps Breakup” in Community Channel, YouTube, accessed in 30th of May, from

About Blair Gu

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”
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