Citizen Journalism refers to the reporting of news events by members of the public. It is usually broadcasted on social media websites such as Twitter and Facebook. Citizen journalism is rising to popularity because it brings light to news which is often not broadcasted on television. For example, the Ferguson shooting of Mike Brown was brought to light through twitter with the use of #Ferguson.
Ever since George Holliday recorded the Rodney King beating in Los Angeles 20 years ago with a Sony Handycam, private citizens have become citizen watchdogs against the police, the government, and in some cases, even the media themselves. However, as consumers we need to decide what we believe is true and what is false. This means that we have to become critical viewers and thinkers when it comes to reading stories online and be able to determine when something is a hoax or not.
Citizen Journalism provides both pros and cons. It allows people to get a range of perspectives, helps to get local citizens more engaged in issues directly affecting their lives, increases activism and it makes it possible for the coverage of events to be broadcasted to large populations that mainstream media might not cover. Josh Lynagh, who runs a community news page says: “A lot of people like to go to one site and be kept in the loop on their Facebook – it’s a huge platform for the community.”
However, citizen journalists do not have formal training in reporting and there are risks to consider such as factual inaccuracies and they do not have any ethics training in how to handle particular situations.
Overall, citizen journalism is a popular tool used by everyday social media users to produce content which is not likely to be broadcasted on mainstream media. It allows instant communication for readers through the use of hashtags and trending topics which are shown on Facebook and Twitter. However, this can be seen as an issue in journalism because it is taking away the revenue from large media companies.