The new era of journalism has been transformed from print media to citizen journalism or also called the grassroots media, which is the topic of this week. Citizen journalism means that normal people take more participation in the process and field of journalism. From providing and spreading information, making comments and critics to writing own feature stories and reports. Citizen journalism has made more irreplaceable contribution in multiple areas of society.
First I will concentrate on Allan, et al (2007) article which talking about the relationship between citizen journalism and human right issues. It criticizes on the “helicopter journalism” style which keeps distance from the core of the real situation. He gave example like reporting from above safe area in helicopter in the Indian tsunami in 2004. Danny (2005) indicated that the “outside-in” point of view should be replaced by the “inside-out” or “bottom-up” reporting style, which makes emphasis on ordinary people’s contribution on witness information within the local circumstances. Even the mainstream media has noticed the emerging value of citizen journalism. Moreover, citizen journalism also construct information network for people in remote areas. With the spread of news websites and personal blogs in internet, it provides more openness and information exchange platform for people to realize what exactly happen in the world, and also see it in a more alternative and multiple perspectives taking cultural diversity into consideration.
Joseph’s article (2012) makes a more comprehensive analysis of both positive and negative role in social media. It begins with Malcolm Gladwell’s skeptics’ view of treating social media as the tools for low-risk activism which does not have the capacity of revolution, then turns into Clay Shirky’s affirmative attitude on social media’s role of facilitating political and social changes. Shirky argues that social media provide extend the accessible for people to gain more direct deep understanding and construct their own point of view. Follow that Evgeny Morozov pay attention to the negative aspect of social media’s impact on oppression, which is more obvious than its effects on democracy issues.
After that I want to discuss an example which is relevant to the main concepts in citizen journalism. I will begin with Dan Gillmar’s paper, which indicated that the importance of new media (eg. blogs) and citizen journalism have been widely accepted in today society. He also mentioned that the education of journalism has also changed due to the increasing participation of normal people with the widespread use of the new media technology. A blog post also demonstrated that citizen journalism diminish the barriers between diverse people and societies, and increasing the possibilities as well.
The example represent the concepts on citizen journalism is the incident of Weibo’s impacts in Beijing Flood. Weibo made significant and constructive role in the catastrophic incident of the flood recent happen in Beijing. It uncovered and presented the real situations of dangerous procedure, rescue leak, the hidden information and repeal journalists’ reports from government during Beijing flood. On the other hand, it also provided useful information as a communicative platform for normal people to contact family friends and also provide information to rescue more people during the disaster.
Weibo users try to give the firsthand real information of the disaster to people and also expose the affectation attitude and fake data of death toll from the government, which will be controlled and deleted soon by the government. However after people’s effort of continuous posting and reposting of the truth through the online and mobile media, the full story and development of the incident and also the error oppression from the government have been realized.
At last, as the beneficial influences of citizen journalism increasing, there are some problems need to be taken into consideration as well. Like the problem of trust and responsibility, and also the accuracy of the information sources. Here is a interesting video from TED talking about citizen journalism from Paul Lewis and another one focusing on the ethics issues in citizen journalism.
Allan, Stuart, Prasun Sonwalkar and Cynthia Carter (2007) ‘Bearing witness: citizen journalism and human rights issues’, Globalisation, Societies and Education, 5(3):373-389.
Joseph, Sarah (2012) ‘Social media, Political Change, and Human Rights’, Boston College International and Comparative Law Review, Vol. 35: 145-188.
Flood on Weibo Still Going Strong. (2012). http://thingsyoudontknowaboutchina.com/2012/07/25/flood-on-weibo-still-going-strong/
Who needs a journalism degree? (2007).
Brown, F. (2005). “Citizen Journalism” is not professional journalism. ProQuest Central. 93:6, p42.