Tagged: youtube

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). 

Social Media – Embrace It Or Get Left behind

Social media is a popular term used these days, a term that would not have been used a decade ago and would have been relatively unknown. Twitter and Facebook did not exist, we didn’t have YouTube and the internet was just coming into popular use. Thus began the digital age and now you’ll be hard pressed to find somebody who doesn’t have a Twitter account let alone not know what it is.

Back in 2001 before the events of 9/11, before camera phones and social media really rose up citizen journalism didn’t really exist, it required specialist skills to take and upload video of a news event. People like business men who were specially trained in using html and were web savvy users able to create their own websites.

Fast forward to 2012 and everybody uses social media, anybody can create a website or have a blog in the digital age. Now news is instantly confirmed via mobile apps or we can check Facebook status’ or tweets whereas before we would have had to email or call via a landline. As well as this, news organisations now use social media to better cover information they were unable to then, calling on the masses for their input via UGC.

“The story is simple: 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.”

(Rosen, 10 years Can Be a Long Time: The World Wide Web on 9/11)

The rise of social media has come about hand in hand with traditional news however there are some who fear the digitizing of news.

“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.”

(Nic Newman (2009) The rise of social media and its impact on mainstream journalism)

The thing about Twitter is there is a flow of false information for example the deaths of numerous celebrities, which can be so easily taken in, not just by the gullible but by credible news organisations hoping to break the story first and trusting the first bit of information they see on Twitter.

However I feel that social media is an aid for journalism despite its’ downfalls. I believe that the way it breaks news through trending topics and collating all the news in one ideal location has created a greater interest in news through a great online discussion and the spreading need to share information with others. Social media is enabling live coverage of events such as hurricane Sandy which allows bursts of information as it is happening before leading people to the in-depth piece they will want to read.

Social media is just the beginning and something we are embracing. It will continue to rise and rise with journalism and ten years from now who knows just how we will be communicating and getting our news. It will evolve to fill the void just like social media did in the past decade and we can only wait for what the future holds.