Where citizen journalism has its’ many advantages and disadvantages I think the case studies show my hypothesis stands. it has had a gradual development over the decade, from a term barely known before the millennium to now when anybody can step up and report the news just by taking a picture on their phone, e.g.
“you have hundreds of ready citizens to report you not on daily but on hourly basis. This gives unique coverage, breaking news and headlines of most important events anywhere in the world. Without delays and waiting”
For many, they believe that 9/11 was the spark for citizen journalism, although this is not definitively proven a gradual change in the nature of the journalist has been seen with the impact of new technology. Demotix is a firm believer that citizen journalism has changed with technology, e,g.
“Phones have definitely changed everything, specifically smartphones and apps. This is something that has yet to really pick up, but it certainly will”.
This raises more questions that need to be answered such as will the citizen journalist and the professional be able to coexist? Citizen journalist group, NewsMeBack believes that they can and should with the professionals checking the CJ news and give their own thoughts to give better news coverage. However Michael Bromley is a bit sceptical and says
“how is the relationship between the professional and the amateur managed in the military, in health services, in the emergency services, etc.? the way journalists talk about cjs you wouldn’t think that 70 per cent of fire fighters in the us are citizen amateurs, or that the invasion and occupation of Iraq was undertaken primarily by citizen soldiers in the national guard. This is something the British army is now going to have to deal with.”
UGC was initially a worry for newspapers but people are realising citizen journalism is not a threat but an aid, e.g.
“The press borrows or appropriates forms it believes will strengthen its product, attract an audience or allow it to compete with newer types of media already using the techniques”
Citizen journalism and professional journalism can work together, written with skill alongside a colour-adding opinion but one thing that we cannot be sure if the future. Citizen journalism group NewsMeBack believes there is a growth to CJ and a future,
“Professional journalists will just have to learn to accept and work together with citizen journalists because media is changing every day. And those changes are in favour of citizen journalism.”
Along with Demotix who believe that will actually save the media, e.g.
“Citizen journalism will not be the only way, but it will have a huge holding in the media. I think this is unstoppable. Citizen journalism can likely help save the media industry as well.”
Professional, Michael Bromley, agrees to an extent
“the core will survive indefinitely; the periphery (the modish) will not last long.”
One thing is certain is that we cannot be sure of the future. If the nature of the citizen journalist has changed in the past decade we do not know what the next decade will hold for journalism.
Email Interview with citizen journalism group, Demotix
Do you consider citizen journalism a gift or menace to news reporters?
If a reporter cares about the future of journalism and transparency they should consider citizen journalism a plus. Citizen journalism is very fair, and the pay scale is much more giving as well. More importantly, instead of sending a journalist with little knowledge of a foreign place, we now have the local citizens telling the stories.
When do you believe the phrase ‘citizen journalist’ became common?
I’d just wiki that.
Do you believe that the nature of the citizen journalist has changed in the past decade? (e.g. now anybody with a phone can be a journalist).
Phones have definitely changed everything, specifically smartphones and apps. This is something that has yet to really pick up, but it certainly will. Ex: The Hudson River crash
What do you consider to be the pros and cons of citizen journalists?
There are dozens of pros, but one con is reliability and a lack-of a unified code of ethics. But, these are are obstacles, which can be tackled with a proper editorial staff.
Do you think there are any economical implications for working news reporters that cause them to rely on citizen journalists?
News papers are definitely relying on citizen journalists or untapped professional journalists. Images especially are coming from the scene all across the Middle East and Africa directly from local citizen journalists. These aren’t reporters placed by news papers or agencies.
Do you believe a relationship between the ‘professional’ and the citizen journalist could be successfully operated?
100% – a lot is still to be revealed, but its well on its way – especially in our office.
What do you predict for the future of citizen journalism?
Citizen journalism will not be the only way, but it will have a huge holding in the media. I think this is unstoppable. Citizen journalism can likely help save the media industry as well. Transparency across the globe will heavily increase as well as citizen journalism grows. This will also create a larger calling for good fact finders.
Citizen journalism seems to be considered a hindrance by many however welcomed by many others. Citizen journalism can be considered raw and uncensored however this could not be portrayed to the public with the skill of a professional. Some consider the practicality of it serves journalism for the better rather than for the worse whereas some see it as a threat to the media and their future. Some believe that they have a future hand in hand so it is vital to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of citizen journalism to analyse how it has changed and will continue to develop in the future.
There are considered to be many pros to citizen journalism but the most important probably have to be that it adds a wider berth and colour as it collates information that would not have been placed into the public eye otherwise This can be through a poll, blog or comment, this gives a story a multifaceted view rather than that of the journalist who wrote it. NewsMeBack agrees that the pros are that it gives a wider range of news,
“no matter how local they are. This gives citizen journalists real exclusivity”
and as well as this they cover the news that mainstream media misses and Michael Bromley agrees that it gives a “multiplicity of voices”. Citizen journalism group Demotix also believes that
“If a reporter cares about the future of journalism and transparency they should consider citizen journalism a plus.”
This is evidence that they are needed to feel the gaps left.
Social media as a form of citizen journalism is seen as an aid for journalism by many despite its’ downfalls due to the way it breaks news through trending topics and collating all the news in one ideal location. Due to this, it has created a greater interest in news through online discussion and the spreading need to share information with others, as it is stated
“Most people are still happy to rely on mainstream news organisations to sort fact from fiction and serve up a filtered view, but they are increasingly engaged by this information, particularly when recommended by friends or another trusted source”
Social media is enabling a powerful form of citizen journalism with live coverage of events such as hurricane Sandy that allow bursts of information as it is happening.
The issue with citizen journalism is the professionalism of it but as NewsMeBack states it depends on the person and believes it is an issue with professional journalists too. It is argued that for a good story a journalist needs the skills they could only acquire with training however that is not to say that an ordinary person is not capable of objectively telling us the story. For many, citizen journalism isn’t even an attempt at bettering the media, but simply aiding it to report to the mass media or just to get their opinion out on a public scale and as this is the case it makes the material a good read but also one that is looked at with a great scepticism as a big problem with it seems to be checking the facts, e.g.
“usually citizen journalists record an event and present it to the public, very often without checking all the facts related to the event”
Many will look at citizen journalism as lacking the ethical and professional legitimacy of professional as it is stated
“this legitimacy may be unknown with a blog or user-created site and, indeed, there have been cases where individuals have gamed the system, deliberately posting material they know not to be true”
The thing about social media and Twitter is there is a flow of false be it the deaths of numerous celebrities, which can be so easily taken in by the mainstream media hoping to break the story first.