How can a normal, average person all of a sudden become a journalist out of the blue? That is a great question but that is what citizen journalism is all about. This week in Journalism 2.0, we spoke about the topic of citizen journalism and its origins. Citizen Journalism can be defined as “a citizen with an active role in different processes such as picking up news, analysis, and spreading news and information”. For example, a citizen journalist can be a person who takes a firsthand photograph of a monumental event and then this photo is used for journalism purposes and is published.
One of the first uses of citizen journalism was when a plane landed in the Hudson River in New York City. A man took a photo of this landing and immediately posted the photograph of the U.S. Airways flight in the water onto Twitter. This photo became an iconic image and was retweeted and posted on different news sources’ websites such as CNN. This was epic as an everyday man who was not getting paid, was having his photograph published.
While citizen journalism is definitely a cool and interesting concept as an everyday person can have their work shown, there are also some negative aspects. In my opinion, a citizen journalist should be compensated in some way. Although they are not working for a news outlet, it is ridiculous that they should not be paid some amount of money for the picture that they took and that is now being posted on various news outlets.
On the other hand though, citizen journalism gives average people the opportunity to have their work published. Because of this, this could lead to a citizen journalist getting discovered and ultimately having their work published in a news source and now being paid!
My opinions aside, there have been many beneficial and rather monumental events that have been covered by citizen journalists. For example, the tsunami in Asia was photographed and covered by citizen journalists who resided there. This was how initial information about the storm was communicated to the world and thus then covered by news outlets around the world. Additionally, these firsthand accounts were extremely beneficial in that they helped the victims receive aid much faster as people began to realize the severity of the storm. This was also the case with the attacks of 9/11 in New York City as many people posted various stories whether it be on blogs or freelance in newspapers about their experiences on this frightening day.
More recently, the Boston Marathon Bombings were covered by citizen journalism. In this case though, there were some false accusations that erupted because of the photographs and accounts published by citizen journalists. People began to accuse random, average people on the streets, who were simply watching the race, of being the bombers just because they were wearing backpacks. This was extremely unfair but one could also say that it was citizen journalism that led to the capture of the terrorists who carried out these horrendous acts.
Citizen journalism is an extremely interesting topic to not only learn about but also possibly to become involved in. I honestly would not care whether or not I was compensated for a photograph ever, unless the photograph was being posted on various news outlets and throughout articles. This up and coming field of citizen journalism has a lot to offer for those who simply love to write or take photographs and have an event that gives them the opportunity to do so.