Benefits of Citizen Journalism

With the constant rise of technology and social media within today’s society, we can see an increase of citizen journalism and its benefits and ability to explore different individuals and societies perspectives. It is becoming more and more a norm, deliberately and planned by some, or accidental and spontaneous for others. “Almost every member of modern society owns a camera or a mobile phone and the most important thing – Internet access” (Mirvajova 2014, p. 149). Social media networking sites like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter are just a few places where people – untrained, amateur ‘journalists’ – distribute and produce information and news.

Citizen journalism is defined as “the gathering, wrting, editing, production and distribution of news and information by people not trained as professional journalists” (Mirvajova 2014, p. 150). Citizen journalism can very often be spontaneous and/or accidental. At these times the news or information can be very important to a community, for instance, reporting a car accident. If being an eyewitness or one of the first people on scene to capture the incident, fortunately, this incident can be uploaded instantly to any social media site to inform other Internet users and the surrounding community.

Social media has allowed citizens to have their own voice and express their own opinions. Citizen journalism does not have to have any government’s or news organisations influence. Unlike participatory journalism, where a news organisation has control and supervision over the discussion (Mirvajova 2014). Just one example of when citizen journalism empowered a community, was after the Iranian election that took place in 2009, where the government were “determined to restrict access to information” (Newman 2009, p. 1). Citizens too became “determined to use technology to get the story out, ” which only revealed the power of citizen journalism (Newman 2009, p.1). Twitter was one of the main sources used by the citizens to distribute and convey their stories and let the world know what the government was holding back. The article below expresses that truth of how the citizens were the ones that had to show the world what was going on, as their media and governments were ignoring it.

Iran, Cyber Warfare and the CIA: The World is Watching

“Citizen journalist have strength to uncover truth and show issues which are worthy to inform about and change and get over mainstream media stereotypes” (Mirvajova 158).

Therefore, there are a number of benefits of citizen journalism including; instantaneous distribution to millions of people, a freedom of speech, no influences from government or news organisations and an ability for citizens to deliver ‘restricted information’ and ignored stories. I personally rely on citizen journalism to retrieve news stories, not only in my local community but also from around the world. Who gets the time these days to sit down in front of the TV at 6 o’clock every night, to be updated on what’s going on the world, especially when one can simply grab their phone and gather any information that has been distributed online.

Iran citizens twitting to the world the truth. Cartoon by Ian D. Marsden

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