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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?