Citizen journalism

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ARC Year 3/2013 Research Paper
Sankaranarayanan Shruthi (23)
O5

Question #3
Citizen Journalism undermines the future of newspapers. How far do you agree?

Newspapers are the original form of broadband communication. They are a periodic publication written by professional journalists. Apart from the usual printed form, the Internet has given birth to online versions of popular newspapers like TODAY, New York Times, etc. Citizen journalism refers to communication of information through online social media where individuals, not journalists by profession, report news that is disseminated to a global audience, who can comment and provide perspective on that piece of intelligence. Examples of citizen journalism sites include, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Ohmynews.com, youtube.com, blogs, Wikipedia, and so on. To undermine the future is to lessen importance of, and to replace the function of something over a period of time. Citizen journalism is becoming increasingly essential in today’s fast-paced society. Nevertheless, this does not necessarily mean that newspapers are losing out. Having been an important medium for precise and reliable news for decades it is not probable that newspapers will be replaced by citizen journalism in times to come. Hence, I agree only to a small extent that citizen journalism undermines the future of newspapers. I shall further elaborate my stand in the following paragraphs.

Firstly, reports made by citizen journalists are more frequently inaccurate than reports in newspapers. Licensed journalists, who author articles featuring in the newspapers are trained to write with objectivity. Contrastingly, public journalists are most likely untrained. Reference to this is David Weaver, journalism professor in Indiana University’s quote: “without the training and education that most journalists have, most citizens cannot qualify as journalists.” Citizen journalists, who contribute information online, might not be professionals in that field. It is not guaranteed that the content is true. A case study that proves this theory is the rumors about Former Singapore’s Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew’s mistaken death that went viral on Twitter. People who were involved in this misinterpretation were normal twitter users, not officials or ministers who were close to Mr Lee Kuan Yew. Another example is the Tory McAlpine case, whereby the same was incorrectly accused of sexually harassing and abusing a child, a false rumor that became widespread on twitter. Comedian Alan Davies was one of those who mistakenly accused McAlpine on Twitter. These case studies highlight the high chances of Citizen Journalism to be inaccurate due to the contributors being non-professionals. Moreover, a study conducted by Singapore Polytechnic shows that 80% of the youths involved in the study prefer traditional media when it comes it comes to competency in credibility. Furthermore, a recent questionnaire conducted on a group of 110 students, 75% of whom claimed that the Internet is not fully credible. Hence, since credibility of content cannot be matched by citizen journalism compared to newspapers, due to its authors being non-professionals, it cannot replace newspapers, and thus, does not undermine its future.

Further under the topic of accuracy, falls the issue of libel. Libel is more frequent in citizen journalism, than newspapers. Libel is a false derogatory statement that tarnishes someone’s reputation. Libel is harmful because, lawfully proving the defamatory statement false does not necessarily halt emotional or societal problems that the accused might face, unknown to the court. Clearly, a defamatory statement is a long-term label on the accused. Thus, libel is considered a crime and is highly undesired by any news company, as it also displays lack of research, flimsy editing and irresponsibility. With extensive editing processes, and publishing issues of ‘errata’, libel occurs...
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