Citizen Journalism, sometimes called “street journalism” can be defined in a few ways, but the main way is “a citizen or group with an active role in processes”. Often Citizen Journalism is confused with Civic Journalism. Citizen Journalists are non professional journalists who report on anything they like. It can be anything they are interested or anything they happen to see on the street. Civic Journalists can do this also but they are professional journalists, with practice, training, and credibility.
Citizen Journalists do their work for free. They have an interest in sharing their ideas and don’t care about the money, they simply get enjoyment from sharing information with the public. Typically they piggyback on information that a journalist has already published. Chris Shaw states “But current affairs is clearly benefiting from citizen journalism and video testimony from ordinary citizens”. With the accessibility of mobile phones they are able to have everything they need at their fingertips. Citizen Journalists share more local news and as Shaw says it is on the rise, similar to mobile journalism. Online newspapers are also giving room for citizen journalists to post and comment, meaning it is being accepted, or is it? We will come back to this but keep it in mind.
With Citizen Journalism, comes citizen media. Dam Gillmor writes about the 5 principals, which include; meticulousness, precision, impartiality, transparency, and independence. These Citizen Journalists have to maintain an accurate post with accurate information, which is sometimes not always achieved. There are a lot of requirements that a Citizen Journalist should have but don’t, which leads me to the debate that is talked about.
Are Citizen Journalists “real journalists”. Alex Krinsky writes a blog that speaks about how they are not true journalists. “I think it is unfair to journalists and the profession of journalism to consider these citizen journalists actual journalists. Journalism is a trade. It is a profession that requires an education and skill to do it correctly. Journalists follow a strict code of professionalism that establishes their credibility through attempted impartiality, and the use of facts and reliable sources”-Krinsky. Lisa M. Flores posted her opinions on Citizen Journalism saying that Civic Journalists aren’t needed anymore because their work is being taken over.
I personally agree with Alex, although I do not think that the jobs of Civic Journalists are at risk. Civic Journalists go through years of learning the rules to become established, they check their sources multiple times, obtain all the facts before publishing their articles. On the other hand Citizen Journalists do not always do this. They freely can post whatever they want, but they do have it easier, of course. All you need to be a Citizen Journalist is a desire to communicate, investigate, a recording tool, and information.
Below is a screen shot of a Twitter conversation with a Citizen Journalist. Someone wanted to confirm information going on at the Embassy in London, and with a quick tweet a Citizen Journalist was able to confirm or deny the rumors, within seconds.
Ahmed Shihab-Eldin creates a video where he explains that Citizen Journalism is up and coming, that anyone can be a reporter and his thoughts about the future of journalism.
My stance on whether Citizen Journalism is positive or negative is still being decided. There are many pros and cons in my opinion ranging from the fact that anyone can be a journalist and have the opportunity to communicate with the public, to the fact that they could be sharing false information if they do not check their facts as well as a Civic Journalist would.