Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No it’s citizen journalism

If you comment on my blog or on anyone’s else, you have just graduated from the school of citizen journalism. Congratulations! Your certificate will be in your email inbox shortly.

The idea behind citizen journalism is that people without professional journalism training can use the tools of modern technology and the global distribution of the internet to create, augment or fact-check media on their own or in collaboration with others. Commenting on blogs or websites has enabled you to become one of them, a journalist in your own right as a citizen. According to Jay Rosen (2006), citizen journalists are “the people formerly known as the audience,” who were on the receiving end of a media system that ran one way, in a broadcasting pattern, with high entry fees and a few firms competing to speak very loudly while the rest of the population listened in isolation from one another— and who today are not in a situation like that at all. … The people formerly known as the audience are simply the public made realer, less fictional, more able, less predictable.

Why pay when you can get if free? All because of Web 2.0 technology that this monster has evolved. Dan Gillmor (2006), founder of the Centre for Citizen Media, argues in Axel Bruns (2008) that journalism has become more of a conversation or seminar because of Web 2.0, “The lines will blur between producers and consumers, changing the role of both ways we’re only beginning to grasp now. The communication network itself will become a medium for everyone’s voice.”

Axel Bruns (2008, 74) states that communities themselves act communally and continuously, as filters of information on citizen journalism sites. They do not care to publish a story, but instead through the granular collaborative process of highlighting and subsequently building up those stories and threads of discussion which are seen to be the most interest to the community.

The difference between a real journalist and a citizen is that there is a diversity of opinion. Journalists have to follow strict instructions from their editors to write and produce in a certain way. Through being a citizen journalist the world is your oyster. You can say what you want to say on your personal blog and other citizens get to respond about the particular issue and is shown on the blog rather than been hidden by the editors.

Professional journalists are having a whinge because people like myself do not have a journalism degree, but are classified as a citizen journalist. James Farmer, a professional journalist states in his article, Citizen journalism sucks that “As a bit of a reality check, when was the last time you encountered a “citizen doctor”, valued a report by a “citizen researcher”, took off in a plane flown by a “citizen pilot” or saw justice meted out by “citizen policeman”? The funny thing with this article is that people have commented on this article, producing more citizen journalist into the world.

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8 Responses to “Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No it’s citizen journalism”

  1. Barbra Kurkowski Says:

    Citizen journalists are “sticking it to the man” so it seems, and giving mainstream media some healthy competition. I love the thought that the public now have an alternative to mainstream media, and can access a diverse range of opinion.

    I have always found that mainstream media, especially A Current Affair shows, to be intolerably bias and always ending so abruptly (with me still wanting questions to be answered). I feel that citizen journalism fills in the information gap that mainstream media fails to do, and also creates opportunity for readers to contribute their opinion and ideas.

    The quote that you have included in your blog by James Farmer made me ponder the future credibility of a journalism degree. If everyday citizens can become credible “citizen journalists” with no background education, then why waste three years at university studying? Maybe in the near future people wanting to pursue a career in journalism will only need to spend a couple of hours doing an online “journalism 101” course, and then be on their way in a position with the courier mail.

    I find it strange to consider myself as a citizen journalist. But as soon as I press “submit”, it seems I have officially graduated from the school of citizen journalism.

  2. Citizen Journalism: Proceed with evaluation « Mimi’s New Media Blog Says:

    […] Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No it’s citizen Journalism by Georgia Rost […]

  3. mimiadachi Says:

    I commented! So I’ll be looking forward to that certificate 😉 And go the Clark Kent reference!

    It is exciting that web 2.0 is allows more people to voice their opinion and participate in building the knowledge of the community. And by more people discussing the news rather than just consuming it, implies that more people are starting to care about what is happening about the world and have a desire to learn more, and learn from each other. But it’s sad sometimes to see that some people abuse the power to give feedback and give harsh or unhelpful comments instead of giving constructive criticism to build knowledge. I wonder if we can ever stop that from happening?

    And while what you say about anyone can say what they want to say is true, something you could have also mentioned is how people can still find reliable and useful information from the range of views available through citizen journalism. In my blog, I talk about ‘communal evaluation’ and how citizens have also taken on the role of ‘editors’ of news, where the relevance of reports are discerned and discussed for and by the community. Even if you’re a citzen, if you report something dishonest as ‘news’, other people will quickly disapprove you.

    I guess thats why you’re less likely to encounter ‘citizen doctors’ than ‘citizen journalistst’; trying to practice as a doctor when you don’t have proper qualifications can lead to a much more severe punishment by society, than if you parade yourself as a journalist when you don’t have any professional training.

  4. aliciapalimaka Says:

    As you have highlighted, citizen journalism is an exciting phenomenon that will change the face of traditional news media forever. Your blog argues that anyone who merely submits a blog or comment on any topic is instantly a citizen journalist. While this accurately describes a produser, the definition of a citizen journalist is more complex than this. Citizen journalism is when members of the public play an active role in collecting, analysing, creating and disseminating news material. It is from this process that citizen journalism produces media with an alternative perspective on news and current issues around the world. Your recognition of the impacts citizen journalism is having on the credibility of journalists is valid, however you could have pursued the impact it is having on actual news material a little further.

  5. sailingfu Says:

    I can see the fun of citizen journalism brought by web 2.0 and the increasing challenges professional journalists face currently. In the term of “every one can be / is a journalist”, we notice that there is easier accessibility to the information, the news and the world. Meanwhile, we also have access to produce our own ideas, news, stories and opinions. Let’s just check WordPress, there are more than 200,000 posts each day which is a huge number. Under this situation, communication becomes easier by viewing others’ posts, commending and writting blogs about our own stories. As you said, some traditional journalist do not trust citizen journalism. This could be a moral panic that those journalists hate losing power. But what they can do and should do is improving their skills along with the development and adapt to current situations.

    However, we can not deny that some blogs tend to be more personal and lack of objectivity. As citizen journalists,the fact people have freedom to say anything online can be beneficial for having a say. Yet some people can present their thoughts which could be wrong or not wise. I personally do not think it is problematic as a moral panic. But as a media student, in the process of acedamic study, i would suggest people to think over rather than trusting what we read.

  6. elizaminnie Says:

    Interesting post Georgia, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, particularly the reference to citizen doctors and police (I find it amusing that there is such thing as a citizens arrest).

    Citizen journalism certainly poses a threat to traditional journalism as we know it. I guess one of the main issues that needs to be considered is what constitutes as news? I watch programs such as The Chaser and The Panel to get my news fix about current affairs and politics. Do you think Rove has a degree in journalism?

    I believe the phenomenon of citizen journalism developed due to the public’s growing concerns that mainstream media is untrustworthy. Driven by corporate advertisers, mainstream news’ objective is to sell as many copies or gain as many viewers as possible. Citizen journalism however, usually stems from an individuals personal interest in a particular issue or topic. Personally, I like the idea of being able to turn to alternative outlets to gather information rather than relying on mainstream news, as it often does not cover topics and issues I am interested in. I think news ultimately depends on what information individuals personally value. After all, can there really ever be such a thing as “THE NEWS?”

    • georgiarost Says:

      thanks for reading my blog Eliza.
      To your question about Rove, i would not classify him as a journalist because he is a media personality and i personaly would not put him in the same category as the boys from the chaser. the boys from the chaser all have degrees in some form of writing

  7. elizaminnie Says:

    Thanks for replying Georgia.

    Yes, I guess this highlights the point i was trying to make. Even though personalities such as Rove do not have formal qualifications in journalism, many individuals still turn to the show as a form of news and information which again adds to the great Pro-Am debate.

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