What is citizen journalism? Well, citizen journalism is the idea that consumers and everyday people like you and I take an active role in news.
From gathering, reporting, analyzing and disseminating news and information to the rest of the world. The idea is to provide independent, reliable, accurate, wide-ranging and relevant information that a democracy requires.
New media new journalists
The old idea of a journalist is some person who by themselves or working for some publication house would go out and find newsworthy events to report on.
We were largely at their mercy for telling the truth and reporting on both sides of the story.
But sadly many of these journalists were controlled by government or harassed by government.
But today we have a new way of disseminating news and events. With cell phones and the internet every Tom, Dick and Sally can report on what is happening in and around their world.
Blogs, Social Media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and media sites like YouTube and Flicker all play a role in getting this news to you and I.
When president Kennedy was assassinated, it was captured on many home video cameras. Imagine if we had the internet, blogs, Facebook Twitter and YouTube then, how that news would have spread.
But it’s not like that today, today we have all those avenues at our disposal. You and I become the active journalists. We are the one at the ground roots.
No wonder that Citizen Journalism is often referred to as Street Journalism.
Look what is happening in Egypt. Where people on the streets, who are actively involved in the situation can report on what is happening. You and I can get news almost immediately, and that news is up-to-date and personal.
The other great thing about citizen journalism is that we don’t only get one point of view on a situation, but we get many. Also, we get personality. We start to understand how people feel. Even how they were involved.
Citizen journalism has been responsible for pictures and footage of things like celebrities or police officers behaving badly and crimes in progress. Citizens have also captured severe weather such as tornadoes and effects of hurricanes.
Ethical issues and authenticity
Many main stream journalists have raised some issues about citizen journalism. Two of the main issues being the idea of how ethical are some of the stories being published and the authenticity of those stories.
But that’s the beauty of citizen journalism. It is not subject to a handful of journalists. It is open to the world. So while you may get those who are un-ethical. The truth will filter out and be prominent.
The same goes for authenticity. How authentic are these stories. Well how more authentic can they get than those who are actually involved, at the scene.
Traditionally, news organizations were able to ensure the authenticity of articles through a process of verification with their authors. Even with the rise of freelance journalism, there was still some contact between the news media and the journalist. With the new cell journalists, however, this contact and process of verification is lost.
But is that actually the case. I see that the internet is a great filter of truth. You and I are very apt and able to decide what is actually the truth or not. Internet users will disseminate and propagate newsworthy items.
With multiple reporters, I mean lots and lots of reporters, a story is very soon collaborated and facts soon verified by a process of mass collaboration
The elements of journalism
According to The Elements of Journalism, a book by Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel, there are nine elements of journalism. In order for a journalist to fulfil their duty of providing the people with the information, they need to be free and self-governing. They must follow these guidelines:
- Journalism’s first obligation is to the truth.
- It’s first loyalty is to the citizens.
- It’s essence is discipline of verification.
- It’s practitioners must maintain an independence from those they cover.
- It must serve as an independent monitor of power.
- It must provide a forum for public criticism and compromise.
- It must strive to make the news significant, interesting, and relevant.
- It must keep the news comprehensive and proportional.
- It’s practitioners must be allowed to exercise their personal conscience.
- The rights and responsibilities of citizens
I mention this just to remind you and I of our responsibility when we act as journalists. When we report and write about the world around us.
Do you consider yourself a citizen journalist. Do you Tweet news or Facebook an update. Do you blog and write articles. Then you are a citizen journalist. Tell me what do you think of Citizen Journalism?