Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Pros and Cons of Citizen Journalism! What are your thoughts?!

The Main Concept of Citizen Journalism

Citizen Journalism is simply when individual citizens report information rather then a regular news reporter. This type of journalism has been around for many generations. Anybody can be a citizen journalist. As stated by Ethan Zuckerman in the Youtube video “Citizen Journalism, What is it?” citizen journalism “is basically the idea of the readers participating in the authoring of the content as well” (Zuckerman). A main feature of this type of journalism is that the recorded information is typically found online. According to the article titled “What is Citizen Journalism?” the writer explains, “in fact, the emergence of the Internet - with blogs, podcasts, streaming video and other Web-related innovations - is what has made citizen journalism possible” (Rogers). People can report what they have uncovered through so many different types of media such as: blogs, twitter, Facebook, and Youtube and it can be anything from actual written texts to pictures or audio. Citizen Journalism “is basically all about communicating information of some kind” (Rogers). 

The Impact Mobile Devices have on Citizen Journalism  

Mobile devices have affected citizen journalism by allowing the spread of news to be much quicker and convenient. A person can experience something right now and minutes later, their Facebook or Twitter status will be updated with the recent news because of their cellphone. Social media allows people to find news out extremely quick and then respond even quicker. An article published last year explains a situation in which a heated protest on Wall Street spread so quickly because of citizen journalism. The article titled “Citizen Journalism: cell phones help tell the story of Occupy Wall Street” explains how 80 activists were arrested because their protesting became heated and how regular people who had their mobile devices helped tell the real story. The article continues on saying, “Citizen journalism was a key factor in showing exactly what happened. Participants and observers, armed with cell phone cameras, captured footage of the arrests and quickly uploaded it to YouTube” (Leon). Mobile Devices have changed the way people keep up with news. Instead waiting for the newspaper, society can just flip open their phones and read many articles relating to the specific topic. 

The Downside to Citizen Journalism

However, as much as citizen journalism has had a positive affect on news it has developed negative opinions as well. A big part of journalism is the ability to be objective and leave out personal opinions. Citizen Journalism conflicts with this because it is common that the person presenting the news is one-sided and not necessarily fair. When this happens, the original story can be a changed a bit. Gossip begins and errors are exposed resulting in different versions of the same story. Society might not get what they bargained for. 

How a Single Device can Completely affect a Person's Reputation 
As for the question of a device “making” or “breaking” a person’s reputation, the following article explains a situation in which a cellphone recorded a black man being harassed by police officers and how the officers are now facing racism charges.
Last March in London, a black man who was suspected of driving under the influence was stopped by police officers and forced to get into their van. Once inside, the officers harassed the man saying things such as “the problem with you is that you will always be a nigger” (Lewis). They assaulted him by pushing his head against the window and putting their knees into the man’s chest. The recording on the cellphone confirms one of the officers “admitting to strangling the man because he was a cunt” (Lewis). The phone was handed over to the Forest Gate Police and the case was evaluated and brought to court. 
A situation like this explains how a cellphone can make or break a person’s life. Those officers are now suspended because the cellphone confirms the harassment and racism remarks. The cellphone also confirms the black man’s story. He has concrete proof of what exactly happened that day.

The Conclusion to Citizen Journalism
In general, citizen journalism can have a positive or negative affect based on what the journalist reports. If the reporter chooses to tell the whole truth and not their version or opinion then it contributes to the news in a positive way. Nevertheless, if the journalist is bias and opinionated then the story is changed and the truth is hard to uncover. Citizen journalists are not required to report to anyone so unfortunately, what they produce may not be the real deal. 

1 comment:

  1. By reading your input on citizen journalism, it seems like it can provide extra details and data from first-hand experience which news reporters would not be able to provide. Some other advantages that can be noted for citizen journalism are that more community-specific news can be made so that people can relate more to the news since it applies to them ( Regular citizens should consider the credibility of their information because what they are reporting to the cyber world may not be completely correct. Some things reported by citizens might also break a person’s reputation. For example, Vanessa Hudgens, the Disney High School Musical Star, had naked pictures of herself leaked on the web ( These types of citizen journalism can break reputations as was the case for Hudgens. Citizen Journalism has its strengths and weaknesses, but the public has acquired a lot of information from “regular people” that might not have been made known if only reporters were in charge.