I've mentioned in my personal blog that I think 2009 is the year when fan fiction has become, if not a mainstream pastime, at least a term understood by many in the media and requiring less explanation in the press. What interests me though, is how this term is being re-interpreted by a wider audience to become, less about actual fan fiction, than about what the speaker sees as related issues. In some cases we may agree with them, in others, the usage seems a little nebulous.
For example, this blurb in the L.A. Times discusses trailer vids as part of the "fan fiction universe." While I personally feel trailer vids aren't nearly as similar to fanfic as, say, AU vids, or commentary vids that do interesting things with POV, I would agree with the title which slots creative fan work in visual form along with its written form. In a similar vein, Jon Stewart's use of the term to describe FOX news' creative reinterpretation of facts, grasps the spirit of fanfic (even though I doubt much political fanfic has actually tread that particular ground).
On the other hand, this post about the accurate imagineering of a car seems to be using the title to describe creative speculation. While this certainly describes some forms of fanfic, it's a bit of a stretch to apply it to car design specifically. More importantly, while fanfic is certainly speculative, this seems to put a certain emphasis on anticipating canon which seems to be very typically male to me – as if the purpose of fic is to guess (correctly) where canon will go and "winning" if one guesses right.
Whereas it seems to me that most fanfic I read seems to take a very different POV about canon, in exploring areas it's not expected to go, or reworking areas where it's been. Whether with characters or storylines, the fanfic focuses on reopening doors that have been closed off, or blazes new trails, sometimes ones where the creators were unable or unwilling to go.
All of which is to say, in what ways do we see the wider media grasping the elements of fan fiction in its more traditional sense, and where is it being broadened or applied in rather different ways?