Citizen Journalism has risen to new heights. With a growing number of new media technology companies releasing software, which help the public in collecting up to the minute news, it’s no wonder that your “average Jane or Joe” has an opinion on what is happening in our world today.
So what is Citizen Journalism anyway?
According to the online Oxford dictionary, Citizen Journalism is the collection, dissemination, and analysis of news and information by the general public, especially by means of the Internet. You can find this kind of journalism everywhere on the web, from LinkedIn to Bellingcat. There is no lack of platforms where individuals can research and post their interpretation of newsworthy content.
How do Citizen Journalists gather their information?
Social media has played a major role in Citizen Journalism as independent writers and videographers have several public platforms from which to source the very latest headlines within moments of live events taking place. In an article on the Washington Post online, which breaks down a report released by the Indiana University School of Journalism on how U.S journalists use social media, it states that nearly 80% of journalists regularly use social media networking sites to stay on top of recent developments. In addition, 62% of the same group agreed that social media led to faster reporting. Social media monitoring platforms specifically have made it easier to gather several eyewitness accounts of current news. Google Alerts, Echosec and others are still among the top used search engines for journalists of all levels.
Is Citizen Journalism reporting accurate?
There are definitely conflicting views on the accuracy of Citizen Journalism. The rate at which up to the minute incidents are documented and shared leaves little to be filtered and curated. This leads the audience to believe these online depictions are true and telling of the actual events taking place. However, just like our perception differs from one person to the next, more hair-triggered reporting can lead to a misinterpretation of the situation whether it's being underplayed or blown more out of proportion. Finding a middle ground between gorilla reporting and fact checking from a trusted source seems to be the best way decipher whether the information is accurate. In the book, The New Ethics of Journalism: Principles for the 21st Century, the author supports this action from a reader’s perspective, as well as utilizing social media as an avenue for gathering information for journalists. He states that just as journalists use social media as an entryway to sources and ideas, many readers use them the same way. They may see a blog post on Facebook then go to a trusted journalistic outlet like the New York Times, to check its veracity.
... just like our perception differs from one person to the next, more hair-triggered reporting can lead to a misinterpretation of the situation whether it's being underplayed or blown more out of proportion
Citizen Journalism is responsible for our continued interest in all aspects of our world. The upsurge of independent reporters has led to major news companies to add a contribution section to their already heavily traffic websites. iReport on CNN’s website and the Guardian Witness via The Guardian US & UK are just two examples on how even the most well-known news outlets are realizing that the journalist landscape is changing to a more citizen inclusive model and it’s likely here to stay.
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