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.
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?