Citizen journalism. Uttering the buzzword in the middle of a newsroom is kin to sparking a fire in the middle of an old forest. Journalists typically have an opinion on everything – because they typically have to know a little bit about everything. However, just like any industry, those most effected by a trend are going to express those opinions the loudest.
Industry opinion is split on citizen journalism. Some, like (CBS) Frédéric Filloux, a Paris-based freelance writer and media consultant, despise the notion, according to CBSNews.com.
“First, would you trust a citizen neurosurgeon to remove your kid’s neuroblastoma? No, you wouldn’t. You would not trust a citizen dentist for your cavities either. Or even a “people’s” car repairman. So when it comes to information, why in hell would we accept practices that we wouldn’t even contemplate for our health, let alone our washing machine?”
Others, believe it is the revitalization of the media industry. Ron Ross, former publisher and co-author of The Handbook for Citizen Journalists believes in the power of citizen journalism –
“It’s my opinion that courageous citizen journalists have an opportunity to fill the void left where the media outlets have left off.”
However, before you can form an opinion you must know what citizen journalism is.
What is Citizen Journalism?
Citizen journalism is when people without professional journalism experience or education use new technology and the Internet’s global distribution ability, to create, distribute, place their own spin on the news and/or fact-check the media.
It has been described as individuals “playing an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing and disseminating news and information” according to SourceWatch.org.
The advancement of technology implements a certain degrading of the line between professional and amateur. The daily use of high caliber items, such as smartphones, tablets and laptops have allowed the public to become those both providing and consuming content. Smartphones include the technology to take photos and video of decent unpixelated quality and access to the global market with just the sweep of a finger across the screen.
In the battle for audience, respected news organizations are inviting citizen journalists to post content on their websites in specific areas of their website – such as Cnn.com’s iReport. This phenomenon is hybrid journalism and is achieving mass traffic.