Citizen Journalism

The debate on new rise of citizen journalism and new media has been a heated one, with the traditionalists advocating for maintaining of the status quo and the new media practitioners and that harping for us to embrace new media and the phenomenon that is citizen journalism.

I’d like to join the fray; citizen journalism has come about due to the fact that the audience to whom the media are reaching out to have become rather suspicious of the messages being offered to them. Slants by various media houses have made their audiences disillusioned and thus the more individual tried and did finally come up with way of reporting or generating content which was not stifled by advertising and shareholder influences. Here we have audience which has rebelled and created there own content and have found out ways of publishing/broadcasting it out to anyone who would like to consume it.

The gatekeeper in the model journalism conveyor belt as taught in university is the cause of all this. In today’s society where the government censor is not there reporting has been affected by among others; editorial style, shareholder/publisher influences, advertising considerations among others. Enterprising individuals have come up with revolutionary ways of reporting; initially starting with blogs where one can publish information anonymously or with their identity.

I have distressed at reading a news story reported at an angle which distorts the happening in the end and if the rise of citizen journalism is a pointer then I am surprised. Ethan Zuckermann writes about the which was started to try and cure western media distortions and was named thus after pointing out that ‘the respected’ CNN had published a photo on their site as an accompaniment to a story they had published about Chinese soldiers in Llaka. What they did wrong was to improperly crop the photo to cut out the protestors stoning the Chinese tanks. The popularity of the site has growing as many get to rethink their trust in CNN. (In journalism I say that the reputation and ultimately the success of a practitioner is based on the trust the consumer/audience has in him/her)

That is why everyday, I do not go to the websites of the large media houses but I get my information from reading through the many blogs in my feed reader and then skimming through the days papers. By going this I compare mainstream media output and what the bloggers are writing about and make out my version of the I don’t think there is any absolute truth.

This has forced mainstream media to get off their high horses, like CNN’s new citizen reportage tool, ireport where visitors to the site can read stories reported in by citizens and not CNN reporters. BBC’s ‘world have your say’ is another example. Various media practitioners have now come to the conclusion that citizen journalism is here to stay, and have thus tried to incorporate it into their operations.

The above foregoing one cannot wholly take blogs as the gospel truth which is the main undoing of citizen media, as the whole rush to have your fifteen minutes of fame, may tempt one into sensationalizing issues or plain lying. And as such, to gain respect from naysayers, those who write blogs news sites should strive for accuracy, for that is the hallmark of any good reporter.

Citizen journalism in the final analysis is good for us who are tired of the normal fare from media houses


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