Citizen journalism can be defined as the people who play a role in which they collect, report, analyze, and share information to the public. The main source used for citizen journalism is the internet. A majority of the general public could define themselves as a citizen journalist in one way or another. Think about how often you hear about something, you search for more details on the story, and then you go online to post the information you have obtained on Facebook or another social media network. Just by doing that alone, you have partaken in an act of citizen journalism. Citizen journalism is becoming increasingly more popular given the advancement of technology, allowing us the ability to share stories at the palm of our hand, whenever or wherever we are.
One of the first documented uses of citizen journalism was on January 15th, 2009, when flight 1549 landed on the Hudson River. The pilot, Chesley Sullenberger successfully landed the plane on the Hudson and deborded all passengers safely without anyone being injured. What may come as a surprise to some people is that the news of what was happening with flight 1549 was not first shared to the public by a news channel, but rather it was posted by an average American who was watching the event happen. Once Janis Krum had posted this tweet, it quickly blew up and everyone was talking about flight 1549. Krum’s tweet was posted fifteen minutes before any news broadcaster had shared the story.
Can citizen journalism be considered a bad thing?
One good thing about citizen journalism is it allows us to have easy access to current events. For instance, flight 1549 like I talked about perviously. If it weren’t for Krum’s tweet, it would have taken longer for the public to become informed about the plane on the Hudson River.
Aside from the positive benefits to citizen journalism, there are definitely a decent amount of cons as well. In fact, it seems as though the negatives outweigh the positives for citizen journalism. For starters, it is not necessarily a good thing that just about anyone has the ability to become a so called “reporter”. It is almost impossible to guarantee that every reporter will be able to give an unbiased opinion on the topic in which they are reporting on. Also, citizen journalists are not necessarily as as educated and skilled as other journalists are. Therefore, the information and tools citizen journalists are using to share stories may not necessarily be as accurate as a formal journalists.