Tagged: Social media

Has The Nature Of The Citizen Journalist Changed? – Conclusion

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”

(NewsMeBack interview).

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”

(Kelly, John (2009) Red kayaks and hidden gold: the rise, challenge and value of citizen journalism, Reuters Institute, p.22).

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.

Interview with Demotix

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.

Interview with Michael Bromley

Email interview with Professor of Journalism, Michael Bromley

Do you consider citizen journalism a gift or menace to news reporters?

I don’t think it is either. it can assist reporters by providing additional information, perspective; and it can hinder by being misleading or inaccurate.

When do you believe the phrase ‘citizen journalist’ became common?

Probably with the emergence of ohmynews – sometime soon after 2000

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).

No. fundamentally, citizen journalism is the same as it was. what has changed is the scope of various allied practices, such as user-generated content (which is not synonymous with citizen journalism).

What do you consider to be the pros and cons of citizen journalists?

Pros = multiplicity of voices; multi-perspectival; expansion of the public sphere; a counter to corporate media dominance. cons = lack of definition (anything counts).

Do you think there are any economical implications for working news reporters that cause them to rely on citizen journalists?

The economic constraints on reporters were evident long before cj appeared. indeed, it could be argued that the gross deficiencies in reporting which built up from the 1980s gave rise to cj because vast areas of human activity were simply not being reported either adequatetly or at all.

Do you believe a relationship between the ‘professional’ and the citizen journalist could be successfully operated?

Interesting question, and one which is asked in many occupations. 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.

What do you predict for the future of citizen journalism?

The core will survive indefinitely; the periphery (the modish) will not last long.

Interview with NewsMeBack

Email interview with citizen journalism group, NewsMeBack


Do you consider citizen journalism a gift or menace to news reporters?

Of course as a gift. News reporters need constant news and citizen journalism offers many various photos, reportage and videos.

When do you believe the phrase ‘citizen journalist’ became common?

Citizen journalism idea is not so young, but I suppose around 2009-2010 phrase citizen journalist started to spread around the world, both on online and mainstream media.

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).

Sure, today it’s easier than ever to be a citizen journalist. You have the tools and social media, all you need is a gadget and news of course.

What do you consider to be the pros and cons of citizen journalists?

There are really many pros and cons for this phenomenon but here are few maybe most important.

Pros : – Availability to wide range of news, no matter how local they are. This gives citizen journalists real exclusivity.        – Citizen journalists usually cover the news which mainstream media misses, that’s why they are much needed in filling the gaps.

Cons:  – Maybe lack of ethics, but that depends of a person, it is an issue with professional journalists, too.        –  Checking the facts – usually citizen journalists record an event and present it to the public, very often without checking all the facts related to the event.

Do you think there are any economical implications for working news reporters that cause them to rely on citizen journalists?

In the past journalists had to travel to any country for news reporting. Now, there’s no need for that when 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.

Do you believe a relationship between the ‘professional’ and the citizen journalist could be successfully operated?

Yes, professional journalists should check citizen journalism news and give their own insights, maybe some additional research if required. All that for better news coverage and audience.

What do you predict for the future of citizen journalism?

Citizen journalism has certain future and growth. 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.

Pros And Cons Of Citizen Journalism

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.

Pros

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”

(Newman, Nic (2009) The rise of social media and its impact on mainstream journalism, Reuters Institute, p.2).

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.

Cons

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”

(NewsMeBack interview).

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”

(Kelly, John (2009) Red kayaks and hidden gold: the rise, challenge and value of citizen journalism, Reuters Institute, p.30).

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.

Citizen Journalism – Hurricane Sandy Case Study

On October 29 2012 a hurricane named ‘Sandy’ became the largest Atlantic hurricane on record devastating areas of the Mid-Atlantic, Caribbean and the North East of the US as well as having lesser affects in the Southwest, Midwest US states and Eastern Canada. Due to the severe damage caused by the hurricane, some reports referred to it as a ‘superstorm’. It was reported that

“after having left more than 60 people dead in the Caribbean, Hurricane Sandy is said to have caused the deaths of more than 80 people in its next port-of-call, the United States, including 41 in New York City alone”

(http://www.examiner.com/article/hurricane-sandy-likely-to-be-the-most-damaging-ever-recorded-us-history-why).

It is thought that the economic losses range to around the $50 billion mark, with $12 billion stemming from the New York City metropolitan.

Citizen journalism became important in this with people beginning to take it on in different forms, in particular social media, e.g.

“When Hurricane Sandy made landfall on the evening of Oct. 29, many residents looked to social media to inform them on the latest happenings of the on-going devastation, which ranged from flood reports to reports of power outages and violent winds, to even fires. Millions used social networks like Twitter and Facebook to discover and share important news, as well as their own statuses with family and friends”

(http://www.ibtimes.com/hurricane-sandy-social-media-role-citizen-journalism-coverage-frankenstorm-discussed-ibttalks-863618).

This is clear evidence citizen journalism became people’s source of news as well as using it to contribute with their own information. Social media became invaluable, with Facebook being a means of spreading information and fundraising. People affected by the storm were without these forms of communication and could not inform what was happening, so it required people to go into affected areas and report the information to outsiders, e.g.

“the people with the least access to the Internet as a result of the storm are the ones who may benefit the most from social media. Those who have ventured into the devastated areas have been able to get information out so that help can come in from informing those outside of the devastated areas”

(http://digitalethos.org/social-media-and-hurricane-sandy/).

Doing this allowed photos of the devastated areas to be documented online for the world to see, informing the public of what happened. This was a major influence for relief efforts, these images and the information released by citizen journalism prompted Facebook pages to start-up of people sharing experiences of the event and donation pages. Without this information being collected by outsiders, posting it online or giving the information to the news outlets, the destruction may not have been revealed on the level it was. These pages will survive longer than a television news broadcast and it

“continues to be a source of support and assistance”

(http://digitalethos.org/social-media-and-hurricane-sandy/). 

Citizen Journalism – Student Protests Case Study

In 2010 in the UK, thousands of hours of mobile phone footage was uploaded onto YouTube and social media networks of the student protests over increased tuition fees for university students. In November 2010 there was a series of demonstrations against planned spending cuts to further education and an increase in the cap on tuition fees. Students felt the cuts were excessive and broke campaign promises made by politicians. However the protests turned violent as

“The scale of the London protest defied expectations, with an estimated 50,000 turning out to vent their anger at government plans to raise tuition fees while cutting the state grant for university teaching”

(http://web.archive.org/web/20101112061311/http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2010/nov/10/student-protest-fees-violent).

The rise of citizen journalism through social media came through this event and was crucial when used in the organisation of the protest, e.g.

“Using Facebook and Twitter to organize protest marches and occupations of university buildings, and to debate the issues, allowed for much more fluid and rapid organization to emerge than would be possible going through “official” channels. It also meant that the movement could reach out beyond the university student body to include school pupils, parents, university staff and the wider public”

(http://dmlcentral.net/blog/lyndsay-grant/uk-student-protests-democratic-participation-digital-age). 

There became a constant information flow on the protest, kept up to the minute by protesters using Twitter on their phones to report where they were and what was happening. As the police attempted to contain certain locations, word spread to the protesters to avoid these problems using this information. Although police had access to these media channels they could not act quickly enough, e.g.

“While police and authorities also had access to the Twitter feeds, Facebook pages and Google maps created by protesters, the speed with which protesters were able to manoeuvre and the distributed nature of participation meant that authorities could not effectively respond to protests via these channels”

(http://dmlcentral.net/blog/lyndsay-grant/uk-student-protests-democratic-participation-digital-age).

This gives evidence that the younger generation were more skilled at using forms of citizen journalism as they grew up in the ‘digital age’.

These protests were an example of how citizen journalism adds to a subject already reported on by the main stream media, e.g.

“While the protests received extensive news coverage on TV, online and in newspapers, digital media enabled students to directly reach a much wider public, providing their own account of events and articulating the issues in their own words”

(http://dmlcentral.net/blog/lyndsay-grant/uk-student-protests-democratic-participation-digital-age)

and getting these messages to the public became an important part of the protester’s cause. Mainstream reporting only focused on the violence of students during the protests but the forms of citizen journalism that came to light showed events that were ignored by these media organisations such as the Jody McIntyre incident, a student who was pulled out of his wheelchair by police. This was photographed by protesters and information was circulated throughout social media before being picked up by the BBC, leading to a controversial TV interview. It is stated that

“this kind of “citizen journalism” can have an impact on the mainstream news agenda, but more importantly it also allowed the protesters’ to communicate their own, broader agenda to the wider public”

(http://dmlcentral.net/blog/lyndsay-grant/uk-student-protests-democratic-participation-digital-age).

The way social media was used has revolutionised the way digital media affects democracy and

“allowed more genuine democratic participation than would be possible through the more formalized avenues of representative elective government or bureaucratic trade unions”

(http://dmlcentral.net/blog/lyndsay-grant/uk-student-protests-democratic-participation-digital-age).

This is all evidence that citizen journalism has become a way for people to make their voices heard against traditional forms of political participation and is leading to it being an option for everyone, e.g.

“the movement lives on in both physical and virtual networks, blog discussions, email lists, Twitter feeds and Facebook groups open to participation from all, and determined to carry on making their voices heard until politicians listen”

(http://dmlcentral.net/blog/lyndsay-grant/uk-student-protests-democratic-participation-digital-age).