Power to the People!

Gone are the days where a family would sit down at 7:00pm infront of the television to wait for the daily news to be delivered, now news is instant and infront of you mere minutes before the event. This is all thanks to a little concept called ‘Citizen Journalism’.

citizen journalism large

Citizen Journalists are citizens who are “playing an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing, and disseminating news and information”1. With advances in technology and media, the idea of Citizen Journalism is becoming more prominent. Social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Youtube congruent to the ever growing convergence of recording devices and mobile phones provide ample opportunity for an average person to share news or events. It has come to be accepted that this collective intelligence of Citizen Journalists is primarily a good thing, however without the strict gatekeepers a problem occurs when conflicting information arises. I believe inorder to have reliable, accurate and fast news, a balance between citizen journalism and other journalism sources is needed.

Two great examples of Citizen Journalism are: Youtuber Citizen Kate, and Twitters influence on the Mumbai Terrorist attacks in 2008. Watch any of Citizen Kate’s videos and you can see the process of citizen journalism and how it can be just as reliable as regular journalism such as from TV. The video depicting twitters influence on the Mumbai terrorist attacks shows the speed at which news flows from citizen journalists through social mediums like twitter and facebook.

Disputes have arisen surrounding citizen journalism, questioning where the line between Citizen and ‘educated’ Journalism is to be drawn. Andrew Marr, British journalist and political commentator stated, “Most so-called citizen journalism strikes me, as nothing to do with journalism at all… But the so-called citizen journalism is the spewings and rantings of very drunk people late at night” this highlights the emotional level which can be introduced in citizen journalism, which would be unethical for other journalists to hold.

So again, the battle for Journalism comes down to control of the medium, and who to trust.

1Bowman, S. and Willis, C. “We Media: How Audiences are Shaping the Future of News and Information.” 2003, The Media Center at the American Press Institute.

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