Pros and Sons of Citizen Journalism

In the 20th century digital media production has become much more accessible by the introduction of cheap digital cameras, smart phones and easy to use editing software’s. This meant that larger groups obtained the means to create text, audio, images and video to share on the internet. This evolution provided many new platforms where any user can create and share thoughts, create and share knowledge create and share relations, and these services are collectively known as social media.

Smith et al suggest a sociological change initiated by technological change: “users are shifting from just consuming information published by professional editors to contributing blog posts and twitter messages, updating their profiles on Facebook and MySpace, asking and answering questions on Yahoo! Answers. From a sociological perspective, social media can be described as ‘collective goods produced through a computer mediated collective action”.

Mayfield defines social media “to be a group of new kinds of online media, which share most or all of the following characteristics: participation, openness, conversation, community, and connectedness. A good way to think about Social Media is that all of this is actually just about being human beings sharing ideas, cooperating and collaborating to create, art, thinking and commerce, vigorous debate and discourse, finding people who might be good friends, allies and lovers”.

Danah Boyd formulates a definition as is an umbrella term that refers to the set of tools, services, and applications that allow people to interact with others using network technologies. Social media encompasses groupware, online communities, peer-to- peer and media-sharing technologies, and networked gaming. Instant messaging, blogging, microblogging, forums, email, virtual worlds, texting, and social network sites are all genres of social media. Social media is sometimes referred to as “social software” or “social computing” or “computer-mediated communication.”  Social media includes systems that support one-to-one, one-to-many, and many-to- many interactions.”

While the social media became that important in the news making and transmitting information, a new role was found “citizen journalism”. Now each citizen plays an active role in collecting, reporting, analyzing and disseminating news and information and that represented for any individual a new opportunity to fulfill his duty of citizen and to participate in public affairs. While citizen journalism is welcomed by many, it is also considered as a hindrance to others, because this type of journalism is uncensored and shared directly from people that aren’t professional journalist. And since this debate is emerging we have to list the advantages and disadvantages of this type of journalism to have an idea of how it will develop in the future.

First of all whenever we want to see the advantages of the citizen journalism we should admit that this type of journalism would capture and report any event faster than the traditional media since they should be informed before they would be on the field.

And it can assist the professional journalists and maybe even the police by reporting the events per example, on August 12, 2017, a car was deliberately driven into a crowd of people who had been peacefully protesting the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, killing one and injuring 28 that event was reported by a protester that pulled up his phone and filmed the attack. There are many other examples where the citizen journalism documented attacks, civil rights violation, protests...

Finally it can empower the local communities where it enables individuals, who are previously excluded from essential information, to increasingly participate in disseminating information to advance their well-being. This journalistic innovation is said to help improve local economies, political opinions, sharing substantial information to remote corners of the globe. With it, many ordinary people are now able to play a part in telling stories, including their own, that are usually understated by mainstream media.

Ahmed Shihab-Eldin talked about this issue on September 10, 2012 in an interview with “THNKR”. Ahmed sees that the “citizen journalism” and the “netizens” made the job for journalists much harder because there are now many resources to deal with. But the gap between a foreign journalist which he called parachute journalist and a society will only be filled with those people on the ground who understands the culture and who are sharing the videos and photos on the internet because mainly they care to much about the story since it affects them and their life.

The citizen journalism opponents attack this way of journalism because it isn’t professional so the reporter won’t look at both sides like what a professional journalist would do so the citizen journalists are considered bias at some point and they aren’t capable of providing credible information to the public.

And while professionals have training and background about what they are doing and know about libel law, citizen journalists may accuse sometimes the wrong suspects as well as conspirators for a particular event or crime. Likewise, it can give problems to wrongfully accused, they will affect the investigation to take more time in case of a crime and when talking about politics it may create a public opinion against a political decision or law based on false information or based on the personal opinion of the reporter.

And finally there’s a tendency for citizen journalists to overlook some necessary copyright laws. For instance, they may fail to keep the identity of some materials without the consent of the copyright owners. Some of the possible photos, stories, or videos can be posted on social media. Consequently, it shouldn’t be practiced because it can violate the rights of the news sources that these citizen journalists tend to use.

This type of journalism created a debate that won’t be resolved in the few coming years but the netizens and the activist’s role is emerging and they are capable now in creating a public opinion against some issues like what they did in Lebanon against the garbage issue in 2015 when they created a civil movement, invited to protests in Beirut that thousands protestors participated in it on the 7th and 8th of march 2015.

Since it’s confirmed that the social media activists influence the public opinion new type of social media active users was found and these are the “political militant”. 

07 July 2022
Your Email

By clicking “Send”, you agree to our Terms of service and  Privacy statement. We will occasionally send you account related emails.

close thanks-icon

Your essay sample has been sent.

Order now
Still can’t find what you need?

Order custom paper and save your time
for priority classes!

Order paper now