Its 2020 and citizen journalism isn’t just a niche form of journalism, it’s becoming many people’s main source of news. With the rise and accessibility of social media its becoming more and more prevalent to see individuals partake in forms of citizen journalism. But what is citizen journalism? Citizen Journalism defined by Cambridge Dictionary as “the activity of recording or writing news stories when it’s done by ordinary people rather than by trained reporters”. Citizen journalism in theory puts the power back in the hands of people increasing the freedom of information due to the removal of gatekeepers.
But is citizen journalism a positive influence or a negative influence. Well from my view I see it as a bit of both and can be highly situational.
Morley Safer once said “i would trust a citizen journalist as much as citizen surgeon” which is one of common criticisms of citizen journalism which is can you really trust the person reporting. The objectivity and quality of this style of reporting is more common as there is no expectation for them to follow journalistic integrity and not be biased or spread misinformation. For example individuals that might fall under the citizen journalist label such as Katlin Bennet for example spread their views and ideology without properly citing facts.
Whilst on the positive side of citizen journalism it does allow for a more free spread of information and it gives a oppositional voice that can go against the narrative the mainstream media industry is pushing. It encourages critical thinking and active audience participation which allows individuals to better understand and comprehend the world. It also allows news topics that wouldn’t receive much major news attention to gain traction, an example of this could be the pray for lebanon movement which gained mass international attention due to people posting about it on social media.
For an example of how citizen journalism can be used to get attention towards a specific event and protest would be the Arab Spring. In 2011, North Africa was in conflict as protesters were fighting against the oppressive governments in many of the arab countries at the time. Unlike other protests throughout history which were spread through word of mouth, this was different. The use of technology like smartphones to coordinate and organise protest was key. The use of technology didn’t just help in coordinating protest it also became a way the citizens were able to show unfiltered footage of the Arab Spring as it occurred over social media. This citizen journalism was a major success as it got the world’s eyes on the corruption and oppressive government regimes that were in power.