What Is Citizen Journalism? Members of public playing an active role in news and information Citizen media, not professional journalism Independent websites Personal broadcasting sites Participatory news sites
Timeline of Citizen Journalism Popularity and Demand September 11th, 2001: Americans wanted immediate coverage rise of “do-it-yourself” journalism. February 2, 2003: Columbia Space Shuttle Disaster news and gov’t organizations asked public for eyewitness accounts February 18, 2003: Demonstrations and protests against war in Iraq December 2004: Indonesian Tsunami, more than 225,000 died in 11 countries. First-hand footage used to encourage humanitarian efforts. March 2005: SMS message response and feedback used by American Idol watchers. Start of mobile phone response March 2007: Twitter gains massive attention, named “best blogging tool” by public April 2007: Virginia Tech shootings. Footage of actual shootings sent to CNN’s iReport Citizen Journalism June 2009 Iranian Elections coverage These are just a few of the major events over the last decade that were impacted heavily by the use of citizen journalism and publication of news on the web. For more example visit http://www.slideshare.net/mariekshan/timeline-citizen-journalism
Layers of Online Citizen Journalism1) Opening up to public comment2) Citizen blog house3) Newsroom blogs4) Stand-alone citizen journalism sites, unedited5) Integration of pro-journalism and citizen journalism6) Wikipedia
Opening Up to Public Comment What: News sites enabling users to comment on articles, videos, etc. Why it’s important: Give readers the opportunity to react, praise, and criticize major news outlets coverage of events. Readers often bring up points of the issue that were not originally raised in the publication. In many instances, these comments are incorporated in the actual post. Blogging sites support public commenting most frequently. However, over the last decade more news sites have been opening their articles to public comment to incorporate citizen journalism. Public comment has not always been a concept without flaw. In many cases, the content of the posts has been debated. For example, should the public be able to comment on posts such as obituaries and classified ads? Where do we draw the line? For many websites, not all content is available for comments.
Citizen Blog house What: A way for citizens to get involved with the news through online posting. Why it’s important: Blogging is a powerful and inexpensive way for the everyday citizen to get involved. Through this publishing tool, any individual is able to to reach out to a broad audience (anyone with internet access). In a lot of cases, non-journalists, or those who are not professional journalists, often offer the most interesting and raw perspectives on certain issues. Blogs are an interesting facet of citizen journalism because in many cases they are very specialized. Citizens can find exactly what their looking for in terms of news. For example, many popular cultural blogs include fashion and cooking. So instead of subscribing to a magazine and website, the audience can turn to everyday bloggers to look for advice. A problem with citizen blogging is the consistency of its appeal. In many cases, blogs start out strong and interesting. However, because there is no limit to the content posted in many cases the material drags on, or adversely the blogger begins to post less frequently until the blog dies out completely. In this way, we see that citizen blogging is not always as reliable and stable as that of major news sites.
Newsroom Blogs & Unedited Sites What: A specific type of citizen blogging. Why it’s important: Transparency news blogs share the inner workings of the newsroom to the public. Readers are able to specifically pinpoint what they think is wrong with news organizations. Newsroom blogs and sites that are unedited give the public a stronger sense of trust in news organizations. Not all websites have “transparency” blogs. In many cases, an editor’s blog is offered where the top editor explains the inner workings and how editorial decisions are made. Unedited stand-alone citizen journalism sites are helpful but problematic. Any content is allowed to be published and its difficult to have safeguards against inappropriate content. How do we fix this? A practical model is for sites to include “report misconduct” buttons on stories in photographs. We see this same technique used on social media sites such as Facebook. No one is closely monitoring each individual page because that is not realistic. However, if someone sees the content and believes its not suitable for the site, it may be reported easily, and then investigated.
Integration What: The combination of citizen journalism and professional journalism. Why it’s important: It goes without saying that not all citizen journalism is accurate or news worthy. However, some sites, such as the South Korean site “OhmyNews” have began to review submitted articles. This site specifically features 70 percent of citizen submitted articles, with the rest from pro reporters. Integrating citizen journalism and professional journalism is profitable for some many news sites. Think about it. The content is submitted without charge, but the content is screened. This kind of media organization and may serve as a model that rivals traditional journalism. Examples of integration: food section featuring articles not only written by professional staff critic but also by the everyday customer, a city council meeting not only being covered by a correspondent but by someone who attended a meeting.
Impact of the Egyptian Revolution through Social Media The Egyptian Revolution is a perfect case study that exemplifies the impact of social media when communities come together calling for social awareness. Social media really became the substitute for traditional media. Facebook and twitter brought the Egyptian people calling for revolution together in a way that wasn’t possible before. Virtual networks were formed, thousand of people came together. People are able to anonymously post without fearing consequences (in some cases). Take a look at the video posted below and draw your own conclusions on the impact of citizen journalism through the internet.