In this day and age, practically anyone can pick up a camera, recorder, and notepad and become a reporter. So long are the days of disc jockeys and lugging around 50 pound cameras. Instead, the average citizen can shoot stories simply from their smartphone and can distribute it not only locally, but globally. But is this really news? How we can we trust that the public’s information is credible enough to air and is there a fine line when it comes to citizen journalism?
As always, there are two sides to every story and it is our job as journalists to be objective, truthful, and fair to both sides. Many media organizations love citizen journalists and have really embraced it by relying heavily on it and incorporating it into their newscasts. CNN has created iReport, which allows ordinary people to tell extraordinary stories all through their own words and footage. (I will expand more into this in a future post.)
However, not everyone has jumped on board quite yet. Lets take a look at some perks and dangers to citizen journalism.
In a Huffington Post article, Leonard Witt, one of the main architects of citizen journalisms’ structure, said “Voices of the poor, the disenfranchised and minorities often go unheard and citizen participation is an opportunity to get them heard.”
David Hazinski, former NBC correspondent and professor of journalism at the University of Georgia said,”Where’s the training, experience, standards and skills essential to gather and report news? It opens up the news flow to the strong possibility of fraud and abuse.”
So can citizen journalists produce professional journalism? Certainly, the education, skills, and training are not going to be evident in your ‘average joe’ off of the street. However, when it comes to covering breaking news, the best coverage is capturing that moment at the right time and being there in the midst of the action. If reporters are unable to make it to a certain location, but an average citizen can provide video of the situation, then this is a huge help.
According to a recent poll by Gallup, Americans trust in the media has hit all-time low. So are people putting more trust into the general public’s information?
As journalism professionals and the public become more involved with each other, the trust level between the two will increase.
These are just a few questions and issues that I hope to dig into and explore with blog. I hope to discuss the increase in technology and how this allows “average” citizens to be more involved with news organizations of all kinds. I also hope to look at some of the motives behind citizen journalism and all of the different types.
So now I want to hear form you guys. What do you think about citizen journalism? Do new organizations rely on citizen journalism TOO much? Or is this helping the storytelling process? Is there a fine line between the two? Share your thoughts!