Tagged: 2001

Citizen Journalism – 9/11 Case Study

In 2001 the September 11 attacks happened. These were a series of suicide attacks against the United States of America in the New York and Washington areas. The iconic moment being when terrorists hijacked four passenger planes and flew two into the north and south towers of the world trade centre in New York. As well as this the third plane crashed into the pentagon and the fourth was destined for the United States Capitol Building in Washington however passengers tried to overcome the hijackers and forced the plane to crash into a field near Pennsylvania. Due to this tragedy

“nearly 3,000 people from all over the world died in the attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon. They Included 67 British people and around 300 New York fire-fighters. About 260 passengers and crew on board the four crashed aeroplanes were also killed”

(http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/14854816).

Many believe these attacks to be the rise of citizen journalism and the beginning of the digital age, e.g.

“September 11 was a wakeup call to us all on how we should be getting information. September 11 changed the Internet and the way we search and need information. People were reaching out and posting their own stories on web sites that we now would call a blog”

(http://www.mediarhetoric.com/blog/how-the-internet-changed-after-911-citizen-journalism-social-media-and-mobility).

Back to 2001 before the events of 9/11 and citizen journalism didn’t really exist. We didn’t have camera phones or social media. Shooting and uploading video of a news event was considered a specialist skill along with html and website construction. Fast forward to 2012 and everybody uses social media. Now anybody can create a website or have a blog. People would rather get their news from social networking sites such as Facebook statuses or tweets. As stated by Stuart Allen,

“This invitation to “be the media,” and thus to challenge traditional definitions of what counted as “news” as well as who qualified as a “journalist,” was very much consistent with the animating ethos of the Internet. Hundreds of refashioned websites began to appear over the course of September 11, making publicly available eyewitness accounts, personal photographs, and in some cases video footage of the unfolding disasters”

(Allan, Stuart (2002) Reweaving the Internet: Online news of September 11, cited in Zelizer, Barbie and Allan, Stuart (2002) Journalism after 9/11, Psychology Press, p.127).

Even news organisations are using social media to cover information they were previously unable to and collect information through comment boards, all in an effort to collate user generated content to build on or create new stories, e.g.

“Citizens, not reporters, were our information source besides the traditional news media. People were looking for ways to connect after this tragic event. Unfortunately, this was a void in the ‘new media’”

(http://www.mediarhetoric.com/blog/how-the-internet-changed-after-911-citizen-journalism-social-media-and-mobility).

In 2001 we would have just discovered email and be confirming stories via landline. The methods of information collection we use today did not exist and were in their very early stages, e.g.

“Many of the major features of how we live, communicate, and get our information today did not exist — or at least were in their very nascent stages — in 2001. The entire Internet had 500 million users and something like 3 million public websites. HTML 4.0, which gave the web its basic features, had just entered its final published state. Facebook and Gmail wouldn’t launch for another three years; Twitter for another five. Google was not yet a recognizable verb. Another difference: No one at school had cell phones, let alone wireless Internet access.”

(http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2011/09/10-years-can-be-a-long-time-the-world-wide-web-on-9-11/244795/).

When the events of 9/11 happened, it was a media frenzy that catapulted citizen journalism into the limelight when ordinary people could capture and report on stories that journalists couldn’t, e.g.

“Smart Phones, Social Media, Mobile Apps were all discovered because someone wanted to fill a need. Maybe 9/11 was the reason because we saw the potential of the Internet. Unfortunately, the Internet could not deliver the results it could today. Ten years taught us that we want information and we want it now”

(http://www.mediarhetoric.com/blog/how-the-internet-changed-after-911-citizen-journalism-social-media-and-mobility).