If you have a blog, Twitter, or other social networking site, you could be considered a journalist. The definition of a journalist now had multiple meanings. There are different types of journalists that help us acquire the news. In the past, a journalist was simply someone who delivers the news on a television or radio. Journalists are individuals we can trust to convey our news in a professional and reliable manner.
With the expansion of the Internet, the world of journalism has expanded. There are now citizen journalists that contribute to the distribution of information. A citizen journalist is a public individual who creates, distributes, and analyzes information. It is another form of news-gathering that has become rather popular and beneficial to the world.
Citizen journalism is a controversial idea. Some journalists believe that reporting the news is a profession. They don’t think just anyone should be able to construct and share the news. Journalism should be respected with rules and ethics. Referring to journalism objectivity, news should be fair and balanced. Some journalists feel citizen journalists are not adhering to journalism objectivity when reporting the news.
Let’s look at the pros and cons of citizen journalism.
First-hand accounts of the news
In 2009, US Airways Flight 1549 crashed into the Hudson River with 155 passengers on board. The aircraft crashed in a highly populated area in New York City making the scene available to report to anyone around. Videos and pictures were taken by citizen journalists that observed the incident. People around the world were able to hear real stories from witnesses on social media. Both of these photos were shared and taken by witnesses of the plane crash.
Faster access to the news
Relating back to the Hudson River event, individuals were able to access this news much quicker. Within 30 minutes, major news broadcasters were already reporting citizen journalists’ observations. Instead of waiting for a newspaper or magazine to publish a news event the next day, citizen journalists can post immediately on the Internet.
Free news with the access to the Internet
A citizen journalist has the ability to report the news on social media sites. It is free to post pictures, videos, and statements on many popular social networking sites. For example, Twitter and Facebook are popular forms of of social media that individuals can share news. That way, you do not need to buy a newspaper or magazine to have the most updated news. For example, the day of Michael Jackson’s death Twitter was flooding with updates. You didn’t have to buy a magazine to know about the tragedy.
Since journalism is not a citizen journalists’ career, he or she does not have the obligation to report the news in a certain way. Citizen journalists are not getting paid for their work. They are free to share their news in any way. This can make news reporting unfair or unbalanced in the way it is conveyed. When reading a citizen journalist’s account of an event, it might be only one side to the story. Opinions and feelings on a subject can make it hard to trust a report.
In 2013, the Boston Marathon bombing was recorded, distributed, and released on all sorts sites on the Internet. Since the culprit of the bombings was uncertain, circulation on social networks was spreading. Individuals were analyzing information and making false accusations. This created more panic with the rest of the world. The citizen journalists were not accurate reporters in this case and caused more harm than good.
Journalists have a degree and more experience in the act of reporting news. Citizen journalists do not. Simply put, their work might not be as good as a professional journalists. Their quality of work in text or pictures is likely unrevised. For most people, it is more enjoyable to read proficient work.
As we can see, citizen journalism is a debatable concept. However, it is an inevitable way of spreading news. With growing access to the Internet and other factors, citizen journalism will happen no matter what. Unlike in the past, almost every citizen has access to a video camera, smartphone, or mobile device. This makes it easy to capture the news at any time.
We will have to accept the new idea of a citizen journalist. It is our obligation as readers to find reliable and trustworthy sources. It is important to be informed. Maybe one day you will find yourself in a situation that will give you an opportunity to become a citizen journalist. Make it your responsibility to enlighten others in the right way.