Citizen Journalism, a power of information or a disastrous misinformation?

Before the smartphones and the data usage, even before the internet, it wasn’t easy to have access to the news. The way we used to hear that something had happened was on the television, the radio or the newspaper. It meant we needed to wait, sometimes a week, a day or a couple of hours to be informed of what had happened in town, in the country or around the world

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Once the internet was at people’s reach and technology started transforming the way we interact using our phones people became part of the news by taking photos, making videos, writing blogs, giving opinions and reporting breaking news. In the beginning, the people needed to wait to get home and upload the information on the social media through their phones and PC, nowadays thanks to the data, it is possible to do it at the same moment the event or new is taking place faster than the news team.

These people who are playing journalism are known as “Citizen Journalists”. They are everywhere around the world, ready to snap, film, report or analyse worthy news.  There are a number of platforms available  to the public which they can use to upload content and everyone can source information directly from them. Even though there are lots of information available make sure the information you are interested in is true and has been verified before sharing it.

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Twitter plays an important role in citizen journalism, with a tweet and a hashtag the report can be viral before the news hits the press.  An example of this includes Osama bin Laden’s raid and death, one of the biggest news stories of 2011 was reported in tweets by a local IT consultant one day before Barack Obama announced it to the world.

The rise of citizen journalism is incredible; information is on every social media platform.  It starts as an independent way to tell stories, allowing other citizens to comment and to be able to add more information, but unfortunately, has been affected by inaccurate reporting. These people work for free, only a few portion of them get paid for the information they find and share.

A Citizen journalist could be an extra pair of eyes in places where the media doesn’t have access like the conflict in Syria.  They document attacks in towns across the country, this information unfortunately cannot be verified by a professional journalist, so sometimes the ethic or reliability of the information is an issue.

In his blog , Jeremy Porter is presenting the citizen journalism as a perfect example of freedom of speech-press and encourage people to decide if the information has or not a value, to keep going reading or go somewhere else to find more.

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Citizen journalism is going to continue to grow more and more, it is an unstoppable phenomenon, there is no one controlling these people playing to be a journalist. There is no way to make them understand this is something they need to do with professionalism especially when the information reported has big consequences to a person, organization to the world.  Yves Eudes, a reporter from French Broadsheet Le Monde, once said:

“I need to know how to write or take a photo and I need to be good at analysis,  learning how to use tools is different from saying everyone is a reporter. Anyone can make bread, but it’s lousy bread. You need to spend time like a true, professional baker to learn to make good bread.”

 

References

Krotoski, A. (2011). What effect has the internet had on journalism? Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2011/feb/20/what-effect-internet-on-journalism.

Townson, P. (2013). Blurring the lines between professional and citizen journalism.                Retrieved from http://www.dc4mf.org/en/content/blurring-lines-between-                       professional-     and-citizen-journalism-0.

Goulart, D. (2015). What can mainstream media learn from citizen journalist?. Retrieved from http://journalism.about.com/od/citizenjournalism/a/whatiscitizen.htm

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