Citizen Journalism – here to complement other forms of reporting not replace them

Our reading this week focused on citizen journalism.  We read the rise two pieces; one was called challenges and value of citizen journalism by John Kelly. The other Quality Control perceived effects of user generated content on news room norms values and routines by Jane Singer.

Personally I am a fan of citizen journalism. I think it contributes a lot to Journalism for two main reasons.

Firstly being the simple fact that Journalist will not be able to cover all stories. To have someone to cover the news that’s not a journalist is better than no one at all. When the disaster of Tsunami happened in 2004 what made it such a spectacular story was the remarkable video footage that was recorded by a tourist on holiday. Without this we would not be able to relate to the story as much.

Secondly, and this is looking at it from more of a user generated comment view, I think it’s great that the audiences can add to what is news, after all they are the people that consume it. People who contribute to these through discussion boards, polls, blogs etc all have their personal opinions. I think it is interesting to see how these different views can form a conversation which results as a form of news reporting.

However citizen journalism, for me, cannot be considered ‘official journalism’. That’s not to say that the content they produce is not worth reading because they are not proper journalist. More the fact that Journalist know more about the industry they’ve studied. Of Corse they do as they practice it for years at university learning and developing skills whilst building knowledge and sources.  

In a survey that Jane Singer did experienced journalists saw themselves as ‘better then citizen journalists’. I would not go as far as this but I would certainly say they are more knowledgeable due to the skills they have picked up.  

There is then the issue that citizen journalism and UGC is not accountable.  If a non-journalist starts producing content they may make some excellent points and even have evidence but that is never going to compare to a journalist with solid sources. Many people may even prefer to see what the citizen journalist has to say, as this fits better with their version of events was but I think the industry could become dangerous if people were to use UGC as an official source.

The main thing I concluded from these texts was that whilst citizen journalism is certainly contributing to Journalism it will never replace it.  I even think that those who are massive fans and even participate in citizen journalism would agree with this.  Citizen journalism is a great option to have it’s something you would often read and help you to form an opinion. Nevertheless you would always want the official journalism with it, where you can to some extent get a neutral version of events written by people whose skills you can trust.


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