Citizen journalism is the posting of information in a journalistic matter by anyone, usually on blogs or on social media sites. There is no requirement to become a citizen journalist, there is no screening process and thus citizen journalism can be used to create an unrealistic truth. Citizen journalism is however on the rise and is becoming the new aspect of traditional journalism particularly in South Africa.
The most distinctive thing about citizen journalism is that it places the average person at the point of being the information provider. This blog post is an example of citizen journalism, I am not a qualified expert in the field of journalism neither has my work gone through the traditional screening processes before production but nonetheless as an ‘informed person on the topic’ I am posting onine for the whole wrld to read. Monnier says that, “Through access to social media anyone can write about anything that’s happening around the world free from authority and guidelines.”
With the rise of citizen journalism, it should also be noted the increase of “tabloid” news, found anywhere online posing as real news but with no real evidence to back it up or any reliable sources to justify it. This information is being disseminated by South Africans and shared across networks to millions of people world-wide every day. South Africa has no real restrictions on citizen journalism, people often post under an alias or a false name and thus cannot be held accountable for what they post. How can you hold a fictitious person accountable? It’s not possible.
This ability to publish anonymously has led to the rise of cyber bullying and cyber sabotage. It is not possible to hold someone accountable when they are not a real person or listed anywhere but at the same time someone with an alias can post more radical thought and can go viral mush more easily than a journalist who is held accountable for what they publish. In my research I came across Ompong who believes
Brianquinne put it best when they said, “I believe that citizen journalism certainly has a place in the world, especially in talking about controversial topics that are often avoided in mainstream media, but I also believe that they will co-exist. Why does it need to be one or the other anyway?”
Although citizen journalism is on the rise many are convinced it will never replace legacy media in South Africa in the arena of public news provider. It sure is hard to ignore the contribution citizen journalism makes to information dissemination process, particularly in context of political or socio-economic views too controversial for the mainstream media.
Journalism itself used to be news that went through the sorting of information, publishers and editors and subs all sifted through the information to ensure that everything published was true before it was provided to the public. This process also ensured that only the most important news was printed and sold to the audience. Annexo S. says,
“Audiences are now the creators of news. Audiences now produce, share and consume content with each other.”
This does however mean that anyone can post information in whatever manner they wish, the “gate-keepers” of information have fallen away and the quality of information is declining. The thing which still sets legacy media apart from citizen journalism in South Africa is the “gatekeeping” of information. The rise of the prosumer environment has increased the content production and consumption cycle. The legacy media are being excluded as a result of the prosumer wanting to know what is going on in the world now and not later regardless of how credible the information is. Claire thinks that Citizen journalism can be seen as…the anarchy of the media world.
In conclusion citizen journalism is definitely on the rise, it is something that we all participate in as consumers and producers of the media especially in light of evolving 21st century technologies such as social media platforms. Legacy media will always be the trusted form of information dissemination as a result of the ‘gate-keeper’ system although citizen journalism is where the prosumer is looking to get the latest information on hand, as quick as possible. To stay updated with news and current events as well as to help formulate an opinion. The rise of citizen journalism is important as it provides a platform for people to talk about controversial topics which are not always found in the legacy media.
- Ompong I. 2016. Ideas and Opinions in a Nutshell. [ONLINE] Available at: http://bit.ly/2b3wYfG. [Accessed 18 August 2016].
- Monnier A. 2016. I’M A CITIZEN JOURNALIST…. [ONLINE] Available at: http://bit.ly/2bfG1uk. [Accessed 18 August 2016].
- Claire 2016. Murder on the Guardian Express. [ONLINE] Available at: https://thisisclairesworld.wordpress.com/2016/05/09/murder-on-the-guardian-express/ [Accessed 20-08-2016]
- Annexo S. 2016. The rise of citizen journalism. [ONLINE] Available at: https://sarahannexo.wordpress.com/2016/05/04/the-rise-of-citizen-journalism/ [Accessed 20-08-2016]
- DarkRoadBrightLights2016. I’m a journalist? [ONLINE] Available at: https://darkroadbrightlights.wordpress.com/2016/03/29/im-a-journalist/ [Accessed 20-08-2016]