‘We live in a global age. We inhabit a world that has become radically interconnected, interdependent, and communicated in the formations and flows of the media (Allan and Thorsen, 2009)’. The concept of citizen journalism also known as public, participatory, democratic, guerrilla or ‘street’ journalism is based upon public citizens ‘playing an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analysing, and disseminating news and information’. Citizen journalism is on the rise in our digital world where there is a plethora of media platforms with millions of members where the guerrilla journalist can have a voice.
This purpose of this digital project aims to discover the value of citizen journalism in contemporary society. Citizen journalism has become a long standing trend for the contemporary world of news-telling. The unlimited access modern day society has to social media platforms for journalist is a key element into how stories are shared, viewed and discussed the unlimited access we have now has also opened up a platform for the unofficial to also share their views in a public sphere with minimal censorship and freedom of speech and a plethora for social change and debate. The term ‘citizen journalist’ can include ‘acitivies such as re-posting, linking, ‘tagging’, rating, modifying or commenting upon news materials posted by other users or by professional news outlets, whereby citizens participate in the news process without necessarily acting as content creators’ (L, Goode, 2009) the definition of citizen journalists does not have specific boundaries (Lasica, 2003). The history of citizen journalism ‘divides broadly into two threads, one about change and one about continuity (D Matherson, 2014).
Citizen journalists can be seen over all media platforms and express and report news, issues and controversial topics in a variety of ways… social media hold an important value in the story telling of news and perspective especially with the censorship and regulation of traditional media forms allows a broader platform for communication and relevant to real time issues. Citizen journalism allows for informal views and perspectives that shape society and also lead as platforms for social change and thought, allows for open minded perspectives and understandings with more unofficial, unbiased views.
Citizen Journalists in Social Media.
Twitter in contemporary society can now be referred to as an ‘information network’ separating itself from defining itself as a ‘social network’ like other media platforms. Author Nick Bolton’s ‘Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and Betrayal’, 2013 book outlines how Twitter can be seen as a ‘real-time’ news source. According to journalism.org a study conducted in 2015 concluded that Twitter was a main source for discovering and finding breaking news “Although both social networks have the same portion of users getting news on these sites, there are significant differences in their potential news distribution strengths. The proportion of users who say they follow breaking news on Twitter, for example, is nearly twice as high as those who say they do so on Facebook (59% vs. 31%) – lending support, perhaps, to the view that Twitter’s great strength is providing as-it-happens coverage and commentary on live events.”
Citizen journalism in social media has help lead to revolutionary events and protests empowering the average citizen with access and information in real time, they can source, access and post freely in a public space. Allowing the use of media devices in public spaces (Week 6) allows for anyone, anywhere at any time to capture, write and post in real time and share instantaneously online. Twitter is an easy way to communicate to a wide macro audience, news feeds can be personalised and shared and with the use of ‘trending hashtags’ people. From my personal researching studies, I conducted an online survey with a series of questions to help gain a basic understanding of how generation Y view the term ‘citizen journalist’
When you hear the word ‘citizen journalist’ what comes to mind?
‘A citizen that doesn’t necessarily have a job in journalism, but performs journo duties for their own leisure or to better society’
‘Citizen’s taking it into their own hands to act as journalists, broadcasting their own ‘news.’’
Social media holds a strong importance for the publication of citizen journalism, small voices find value in being able to post and share on this public sphere
Do you see any value in the importance of being able to post, see and communicate about social and political issues online as freely as we do?
There is importance in that some people/groups who have important issues to discuss will never have their story heard on traditional media platforms. Social media opens up our knowledge and understanding of the world.
It is extremely valuable, and a form of freedom, to be able to produce, share and discuss content/issues occurring nationally/internationally and also has the potential to provide a sense of community and security.
Regulation and control in audiences and social media hold a valuable part in society although classification codes can constrict individuals from accessing real news in real time, the national classification code on regular media forms such as radio, television and film can be seen as shown below;
NATIONAL CLASSIFICATION CODE
Classification decisions are to give effect, as far as possible, to the following principles:
- Adults should be able to read, hear, see and play what they want;
- Minors should be protected from material likely to harm or disturb them;
- Everyone should be protected from exposure to unsolicited material that they find offensive;
- The need to take account of community concerns about:
- Depictions that condone or incite violence, partially sexual violence; and
- The portrayal of persons in a demeaning manner.
This is when the value and freedom of online resources such as twitter become useful in contemporary society news and storytelling, the allowance of anyone formal and informal thread being shared and exposed allows a wider reading knowledge and understanding of contemporary issues and topics. The majority of ‘young people’ resourced for this digital project believe that there is a strong importance of being able to access news online as this form of media is their main form of access to news. The convenience of real time storytelling with media platform Twitter is a valuable resource in news telling especially with generation Y users as a communication and sharing tool. ‘Social media has also been utilized in authoritarian, non-democratic societies. Xin explored the citizen journalism phenomenon in China, where mainstream media is still under tight ideological control. Xin argues that citizen journalism is advantageous over mainstream journalism because it greatly enhances public participation. In the first two case studies, Xin demonstrates the ways in which citizen journalism complements mainstream media by positioning itself as an alternative news source for time-sensitive news. These “watchdog” journalists helped publicise social injustices but would not have been as influential if they hadn’t drawn government attention or the attention of a mainstream media source (@Lilywfu, wordpress.com, 2013)’.
Twitter has around 2,800,000 active Australian users approximately (Cowling, SoicalMediaNews.com, 2016) people use twitter to access news forms daily most people refer to online sources as a way to justify what they hear on traditional news forms. Most of the respondents participating in this research projected noted the freedom we have with being able to ‘informally’ post online and the freedom of discussion.
Do you feel more interconnected with news stories on social media rather than traditional media platforms i.e. TV, Radio- If so why do you feel this way?
Yes, the ability to engage interests me. I don’t have to accept the first report as the truth
Yes, because of accessibility and convenience. They can be listened to, watched or read at anytime and anywhere, as many times as possible.
Yes. The opinion of the people is what news is all about.
Unfortunately, the mainstream media try and have us believe this but we all know it’s driven by others.
A study conducted by the American Press institute.org surveyed how ‘twitter changes the way people get news?’- they found that twitter users tend to be younger than social media users in general twitter is an increasing source for news and making tweets about the news. The API has correlated a set of statistics based on survey findings in regards to ‘using twitter as a news source’
- Nearly 9 in 10 Twitter users in the study (86%) say they use Twitter for news, and the vast majority of those (74%) do so daily.
- Roughly the same number of people say they use Twitter to be alerted to breaking news (40%) as to keep up with the news generally (39%).
- 82% of Twitter users access the platform on their phones and many access Twitter across multiple devices.
The importance that online news telling is becoming increasingly stronger a majority of young people in contemporary society believe that this media platform does and will continue to hold a great deal of importance in terms of news and storytelling as the ‘guerilla’ journalist is an increasing term in society and news telling that will grow stronger in terms of worldwide communication of breaking news and events.
The Boston Bombing- The Twitter Story
In the afternoon of April 15, 2013 a marathon in Boston was shook by the denotation of two bombs that erupted an unsuspecting city. From this twitter ‘became a crucial part of the journalist’s toolkit’ (S Rogers, 2013). Within seconds of the two bombs exploding twitter was the first media platform to broadcast the event:
Studies show that most main news outlets did not broadcast the event until a full 15-30 minutes after the event had passed. Most journalists and citizens were able to source and broadcast these events instantaneously online and communicate effectively in real time. Not only could journalists and news companies use this to their advantage it proved to be an effective communication tool where videos, thoughts, concerns and social anxieties could be shared and discoverable.
Many people actually participating in the event began to live stream and tweet with their devices whilst in the midst of the action from this eventually Boston Police Department were able to utilize the sources and thousands of images, videos and text posts online to find the attackers. This was a positive outcome for the successfulness of investigators as not only were the able to organise a man hunt with the resources that the online world had provided but also proved to be an extreme help in building a strong case against the accused and correlate a series and timeline of events.
This account can be seen as a prime example of how citizens interact and act with the news on social media. The strong usage of media devices in public spaces in this instance were useful for presenting ‘real time’ news to the public and raised awareness to the city and the world of the incident and kept upkeep with live updates that eventually helped the success in solving the case to a tragic event and allowed for easy communication between the community throughout the time of the event.
Overall analysis of the value of citizen journalism in contemporary society.
When looking at understanding the value of citizen journalism in society- personally I believe that to myself this is an important part of who we are and freedom of speech as many countries try to regulate the media and tend to be extremely bias in their story telling – the more ‘informal’ ways that the news is shared is important in understanding the real and raw thoughts of society and allows for a plethora of discussion, debate and social change. The freedom we are allowed with using our media devices in society is important in being able to capture and document real time breaking news and share it instantaneously with the world. As nearly all generations have access to smart phones or smart devices it is easy to communicate and share stories online without having to turn to more formal forms of traditional media news telling
Most people surveyed for this project also believe that media platforms are the most useful form of gathering news and breaking news as they have constant access to their devices therefore finding out ‘breaking news’ online that’s being shared by online users. There is a strong value most people hold with the freedom we have to discuss and debate online and also value the opinions of others to help gain deeper and broader understandings of world issues and events. As the media and technology grows so will the importance of being able to freely tell a story or post about the news online will become, it is vital for a society to function off strong communication platforms and help the flow of understanding of topics and not just be exposed to regulated governmental forms of media and storytelling.
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