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.
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.