The Benefits of Citizens Journalism

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The role citizen journalism plays in media is constantly evolving. As new technology becomes available, it has the ability to mould the ever-changing landscape of what we consider to be traditional media. Social journalism has added another layer to what the general population views as a news story.

There are many advantages to citizen journalism but the most significant factor would most likely be that it adds a wider scope as it collates information that would not have been readily available in previous times. This information can be collated through a poll, blog or comment, and gives the story a multifaceted view, rather than just through the lens of the journalist who wrote it.

When a traditional journalist collaborates with a citizen journalist it can create a level of transparency which would be unattainable if the information had only come from a single source. It is this transparency which can fill the gaps left by mainstream media. When there are word and time limits on a story, the role of citizen journalist is vital to allow people more access to information if they choose to pursue the story.

Citizen journalism can also be a catalyst for social change. The role social media and blogs becomes significantly important during protests. In 2011 during Occupy Wall Street the protests became a common thread in that they are well documented by Citizen Journalists. It was also in 2011 that the Arab Spring uprising occurred, with media using countless images, videos and stories in their coverage. In particular in cases where journalists can’t get in to an area due to violence or other factors, citizen journalists play a key role in telling that story to the public. When atrocities are occurring it can be nearly impossible to hide this from the outside world if citizens take the initiative to show it through social media, etc.

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Citizen Journalism

People don’t want the news told to them any longer, they want to be part of the process. The notion of ‘breaking news’ is broken in itself. Live streaming is becoming a big piece of breaking news. When a breaking news event happens like a shooting or protest, instead of waiting around for the 6pm news to tell you the story of that event, you can go on social media and watch events unfolding live.

With 58% of the world using social media in one form or another, people have access to more news than ever. Knowledge sharing is the cornerstone of human civilisation, and with knowledge being more readily available than ever, the world will keep advancing. What do you think will be the next factor that influences the media landscape?

 

 

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The Dangers of Citizen Journalists

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Citizen journalists’ are beginning to leave a mark in the new media landscape. There is a danger that comes with this though. The everyday person trying to emulate a news journalist can become dangerous. Community and police update pages on Facebook can be a huge platform for a community.

But what happens when these pages post the wrong information. Or share details of a personal event such as a car crash a loved one may have been in etc? Can you trust that the information has been fact checked?

A seemingly innocuous post can be recorded forever in cyberspace, potentially destroying reputations and lives of innocent parties. A small lie can have devastating effects upon an individual.

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(istock)

 

It is clear that citizen reporters provide independent information, however, is this information accurate and reliable? Can’t be sure, says Professor Hazinski, a former NBC correspondent and professor of journalism at the University of Georgia. Hazinski agrees that citizen reporters provide independent information, he argues that it may not be accurate and reliable. He relates to citizen journalism as gossip. Where there is no training, experience, standards and skills which are essential to gather and report the news. It is these negatives which can open up the news flow to the possibility of fraud and abuse.

Bias is another factor that plays a part in our view of news from the media. As discussed in a previous blog, the media can be swayed by various political parties or agendas’. At the same time, this can also be true for citizen journalists. They may not be influenced by a political party, but they are swayed by their own opinions and by their feelings towards a story. As they are acting as both the editor and the writer, there is no insulating barrier between the public and the writer. If there is any damage done, then there can be legal issues to face for the lies that are told, but the damage can be irreversible in some cases.

So which form of journalism is the best outlet for information for the everyday person? Both citizen and traditional journalism have pro’s and con’s. It can be argued that the pro’s in both forms outweigh the negatives. Both have an agenda of presenting the news to the public. It is when false information is broadcast throughout a community which can have devastating effects.

But how do you know for a fact what you are reading is 100% true? It is up to the reader to remain aware that what they are reading needs to be taken with a pinch of salt. Does the everyday person have the time to cross-check every story that appears in their news feed though? Whether it be traditional or citizen journalism, it is paramount that you don’t believe everything you read.

Leave a comment and tell me what you think.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The New Age of Journalism

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Photo taken by Dorret January 15 2015 – Flickr

The world wide web has brought about a new age in journalism. Once upon a time your average citizen relied on traditional media sources such as newspapers and news programs for information. However in the age of social media everyday citizens can procure their daily news within a five minute scroll through Facebook. Traditional media are increasingly using content taken by citizen journalist’s to enhance their stories. Most people carry a video camera, voice recorder and access to the internet right in their front pocket, that being the smartphone. Anyone with a smartphone can record, audio and visually, any event happening in front of them and post it to the internet within moments. This content is raw and usually unedited, which brings an element of truth that the everyday internet user can engage with.

Rutigliano emphasizes that in the past traditional media outlets have primarily used participatory journalism, which involves members of the public discussing issues in their own words, but under the direct supervision and involvement of the news organisations. Although this form of journalism involves the general public, it can be edited out of context to suit a specific agenda of the media’s.

However the new age of citizen journalism has changed the way in which we receive our news. Social media strategist Lasica describes blogging as a random act of journalism. WordPress alone has over 1.97 million posts uploaded per day. These blogs can cover issues before the media has a chance to post it and has the ability to help in countries where there is a lack of presence from foreign media. A true insight into what has taken place can be experienced without all the fluffing and editing the traditional media potentially puts into their publications. Events such as the Arab Spring are largely captured on smartphones. This item alone has the power to turn anyone into a journalist.

Citizen journalism has become a tool for justice, where a picture or video shot by a bystander can bring about arrests and court cases. The reality of this has become apparent in the USA where local police forces have been brought into question due to multiple instances of African-American’s losing their lives while in the hands of police. The reporting of this by citizens journalists has brought about extensive traditional media coverage. This coverage has engaged local citizens into debate on the topic and has seen a rise in activism on the topic, particularly the Black Lives Matter movement. There are countless instances where citizen journalism has revealed stories that the public would otherwise have no idea about.

Without the power of citizen journalism one would question whether we would be paying attention to these topics at all. Would the traditional media still be covering these stories and events with veracity or would we be reading something entirely different?