Caterin L. Villar
November 27, 2011
Is Assuming the Role of Citizen Journalist worth the Risk?
Amateur journalism is becoming more and more popular everyday with the advancement of technology. Newspapers across America have become so decimated by staff cutbacks that citizen journalists are stepping in to fill the gap in covering the news. Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube are only some of the free websites where users are connected with others and can share in an instant what is happening in their side of the world. When the people formerly known as the audience employ the press tools they have in their possession to inform one another, that’s citizen journalism (Rosen). Yulianti’s article states “Professionals in the media show a tendency to overlook the existence of many ordinary citizens out there who embrace the idea of participatory journalism, people who have shifted from being passive media consumers to active citizen reporters, believing they can create a better society if they get involved in conveying the news” (Rottenburg and Wincell 267). The risk that citizens have taken in journalism has resulted in more interesting, accurate and thorough coverage of daily events. Their coverage of daily news has resulted in a positive change in society. Citizen journalist have the power to inform the residents of local events taking place where they live that otherwise may not be covered by their local news. In Connecticut, we recently had a freak snowstorm in late October. This snowstorm caused extensive damage to the electrical infrastructure of Connecticut. I did not lose power, yet I watched the news and saw the ample coverage of the snowstorm. I wondered how the people who did not have electricity would get the various emergency messages the governor sent over television. Many stated that they were able to get news by other people’s Facebook statuses thru their phone. Others, especially those who stayed in shelters, were sent personal videos from neighbors and friends of the conditions of their local areas. This is personalized news that cannot be replaced by your local news, and that is much more valuable and relevant to the viewer. Watson’s article states “YouTube.com, the wildly popular video-sharing Web site, boasts more than 100 storm-related videos shot by area residents on their cell-phone cameras and digital camcorders. And the photo-sharing site Flickr.com has more than 800 images of the storm” (Watson). Citizens want reports on events that will affect their lives. Citizen journalist appeal to the audience that wants specialized coverage of events. Atkins states, “People care about their community and have a hunger for finding out what is going on. People care about school board and local planning meetings, and these are stories that citizens who attend these meetings can report on and post to a web site. Will it be a completely factual, objective account of what went on at the meeting? Well, maybe yes and maybe no, but at least someone is disseminating the information about it. The problem comes when an investigative or in-depth story needs to be done. This requires a lot of time and resources, neither of which many citizen journalists have.”
Citizen journalists use the current methods of open exchange of information and views to benefit to society and help government and general public better connect with each other. These journalists bring attention to unjust issues that the general public may not be aware of. Bennett’s article pointed out many of these events such as “ Zahraa Kassem and Laila Marzouk, the mother and sister of Khaled Said, the Alexandria businessman beaten to death in June 2010 for his viral exposure of a video implicating police officials in political corruption; Wael Ghonim, the Google executive who used Facebook as a means of coordinating a Cairo protest before begin arrested and held for 12 days”(Bennet). Governing officials in Egypt, due to the...
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