Thoughts About Citizen Journalism

As part of our discussion of citizen journalism, consider and respond to two questions posed by The Workbook for News Reporting and Writing, 10th ed: “Some observers expect citizen journalism to fill the news gap created as traditional organizations reduce their staffs and their coverage. Is that a realistic expectation? Why or why not?” In a minimum of 150 words, create a comment here expressing your view.

21 thoughts on “Thoughts About Citizen Journalism

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  5. Personally, I do not think that citizen journalism will be able to cover the entire news gap created by the reduction of staff and their coverage of information. My main reason is because of the credibility that traditional organizers provide us with. Citizen journalism may be very fast and convenient for people who are somewhat tech savvy. However, since majority of them are untrained in the area of journalism and their credibility are not very trustworthy compared to traditional newspaper organization. Also, traditional organization takes their time to edit and publish their works. In my opinion, citizen journalism lacks that kind of resources. Yes, it is true that some organization will buy out some pictures and information from citizen journalists but that is only very few compared to the vast numbers of journalists. It would be very hard for people to trust information that is not credited by a trustworthy company. Since the start of the Web 2.0 era, it is obvious that the majority of the population rely on information from blogs and social network system such as Twitter and Facebook. However, I must emphasize on the credibility. Although it may be the fast and the easy way to get information from citizen journalism, it has its pros and cons which concludes that it would be hard to replace the traditional journalism.

  6. I can understand why people would believe that citizen journalism will fill the gap left by traditional journalism. In a way this makes sense, as long as there is a market to exploit there will be someone who will. However, I do not believe that citizen journalism is a proper way to compensate for that loss. While it will certainly allow new voices to be heard it will also not always be the best source for news. Personally what I look forward to more online independent news organizations, rather that straightforward citizen journalism. The reason for this is that although personal bloggers allow for a more variety of news they are not always the most reliable when it comes to reporting the news objectively. This can be seen in the way that people Photoshop images during events such as Hurricane Sandy and then claim it to be real. This kind of unreliability makes me skeptical of how well citizen journalism will fill that gap. The truth of the matter is that only time will tell.

  7. I believe that citizen journalism is very important to the public because if the professional journalists fail to report the news for everyone to understand, the citizen journalists are a nice second option to report the news. However having the citizen journalists fill the news gap may be providing them with too much responsibility in my opinion. I am in no way saying that the citizen journalists are not capable of reporting the news in any way, but I feel that the major news stories such as shootings and other dramatic stories should be left to the professionals who have more resources than the citizen journalists’ use. On the other hand there are stories that are better handled by citizen journalists such as local business stories. However there seem to be more dramatic stories than smaller stories to handle and in my opinion the news gap should not be filled by citizen journalists.

  8. I sure hope that isn’t the case. I think on a whole theres a massive decline in the quality of the news we receive, and people’s acceptance of subjective, partisan news organizations. There’s no problem in citizen news, but there needs to be quality professional sources as well.
    Citizen journalism does its best work when accompanying a professional story. I wouldn’t want a some joe schmoe reporting on a school shooting, I’d rather get the full story from a professional. But as an accompanying piece that supports a part of the professional report citizen journalism is helpful.
    I think it comes from a place of general distrust of the general population to handle important issues like the news, but I would not want citizen journalism to become the “norm” for news.

  9. Citizen journalism is a great way for locals to see what’s going on in their towns. Locals can hear about stories they may never have heard before, learn about places they’ve never been to, and hear about weather related stories. However, I think it’s very unfair for news companies to be relying on citizen journalists in such a big way. I, personally, consider citizen journalism as more of a hobby for most; something they choose to do in their free time. News organizations should not put these expectations on such easy-going reporters. For example, what if there are a few popular citizen journalist reporters that post article rarely? How are they supposed to fill in this “gap” if they never post anything? Also there could be a reliability issue. How do you know that these reporters have found all of the information regarding a certain story? There are a lot of issues that come into play when relying on citizen journalists, even though they’re a great news outlet. Therefore, I think the expectations of these news companies are very unrealistic.

  10. I think to view citizen journalists as having an expectation to fill in the gaps in news stories is somewhat irresponsible of modern news media. The internet, which is the primary source of citizen journalism, has major problems associated with it. First is the idea of anonymity. Without any way to confirm the identity of the person or persons contributing the news, there’s no inherent credibility. As we discussed in class, for example, citizen journalists can easily manipulate photographic evidence, or try to pass off events as better or worse than they actually are, based on personal bias.

    While the journalistic integrity of the outlet relying on citizen journalism should be the first thing on their mind, relying on citizen journalists to fill in gaps may also not be realistic. This makes the assumption that your readership is present at a given event, is willing to act and report with integrity, and is willing or able to join in the discussion. Leaving a gap in your coverage of an important event simply leaves a lot to chance which is risky, especially if that gap will be especially detrimental to the image of your outlet.

  11. Even though I feel that citizen journalism would fill the gap, I do not believe that the information provided would be as reliable compared to the information provided by respected news sources. Even though citizen journalist take the time to provide us with information, the information may not be as credible because it lacks the proper components to be edited and reviewed professionally. However, because of todays technology, news and information tends to travel fast. Citizen journalists have the ability to write about first hand experiences and are able to publish stories almost immediately due to the internet. This provides the public with stories that may relate more personally. It also provides a more relaxed feel because of the style of writing and how it is presented. Knowing this, the general public may prefer it over what is currently being published. Again, I personally think that citizen journalism will fill the gap, but the credibility may be questionable.

  12. I think that citizen journalism is a wonderful way to get information about events currently happening. I really like when news programs show photos that citizens have emailed or tweeted. The photos usually show the results of storms as the storm is happening, which is basically kind of cool. Despite all this however, I don’t think that citizen journalism should be expected to fill in the gaps created by traditional organizations.

    While citizen journalism is cool there are some issues, mainly that the information is not fact checked. When I read a news article I want to feel like I can trust the source. I think most of that trust would be lost knowing that the information came from individual citizens who could belong to any number or groups or cults. These people could have biased opinions or personal agendas and that could come through with their information. So while it is nice to see news items from citizens, I would much rather hear information from professionals who are held up to certain standards and I think it is unrealistic to think that citizens could have news items that are as interesting or in depth as trained professionals.

  13. Though it’s tough for me to admit, I’m not a huge news buff. The articles I regularly read and subscribe to would be part of the citizen journalism genre, as they are not directly from sources like the New York Times or the Washington Post. They are written by people like me, for me and are providing me with information I want. As traditional organizations continue to reduce their staff and coverage, I would fully expect citizen journalism to fill the gaps, no doubt. While they are not equipped with fact checkers and editors, they are equipped with something greater – their want to say something. Thanks to the internet and social media, there will never be a lack of news for any given topic, and as a community, people can find the truth of the story together. There’s a kind of open discussion that goes with citizen journalism online that isn’t really prevalent when reading a newspaper.

  14. I don’t think citizen journalism could completely take over the media. I think they are good to fill the space when necessary, but they’re not always needed. They could also be good to quickly get the word out through social media sites. However, they do not have the skills and experience as a real journalist who attended college and has a career as a journalist has. They might not know the correct way to write an article and the readers don’t know how truthful the information is. Just because there are budget cuts, doesn’t mean the space should be completely filled with citizen writers. The sites also tend not too look as professional as real news sites or newspapers. The citizen writer sites are not as popular as say New York Times. A major news site can’t rely completely on citizen tweets to keep the public informed on a developing story or breaking news. They could use them for a tragedy that someone experienced first hand to share with the public, but the media needs research to produce their own articles on it as well.

  15. I do not think that there is a necessary expectation for news media to rely on. It’s not the citizen journalist’s job to fill these gaps in of these news companies. The job of the citizen journalists is to report and cover news stories of their liking to fill people around the world in what’s going on in that citizens area. These citizen journalists aren’t that known to the news world so it is for these news organizations to fill in those gaps that these citizen journalists aren’t filling in. The reason why citizen journalist aren’t known because people may think the news stories that they are reporting aren’t reliable because they don’t have the resource. The internet is being used every day by people all around the world and of all different ages, but even though these people are using the internet doesn’t mean that they know what is going on in different parts of the world. People might want to make citizen journalism a hobby, so by following up on a story and reporting it might make them feel special and important by letting other people know what is going on in different parts of the world.

  16. Citizen Journalism has been used and misused in the past, present and will continue in the future. Any individual has the power to make their voice heard through larger media sources, but some citizen journalists will mislead their viewers through infatuated reporting. Although in many instances these writers have aided larger news stations on reporting the more finite details of the personal accounts. This was seen in the recent news through the duration of and after super storm sandy. I don’t believe that this will be able to fill the gap in the media world because all of the major news corporations solely cover bigger stories. All of the smaller more personal reports are neglected which is where this type of reporting would be extremely helpful. It is a break from the everyday doom and gloom newspaper stories that we read, their stories can be light hearted and a new way of seeing the world. It could also be a start to something bigger, a future reporters beginning maybe. While citizen journalism may not fill the gap, if used correctly it undoubtedly enhances the world of media as a whole.

  17. While citizen journalism can be beneficial to the community I do not believe that it can fill the news gap left by reductions in traditional journalism. Citizen journalists create a convenient way for people to quickly put out news that can be seen just as quickly and easily. However, these journalists generally are not reaching a large audience. When posting news on blogs or social media websites generally only groups of people that the individual knows or are in the local community would see the news. Additionally, citizen journalists most likely do not have the proper training in the field of journalism and do not have great experience with news reporting. They also do not have the established credibility of major newspapers or reporters and do not have the fact checkers that those entities do. Therefore, due to the flaws that citizen journalism has it will not be able to replace the dying traditional journalism forum.

  18. I feel that people mistakes citizens journalism for community journalism. Citizen journalism is only regular citizens taking the active role for analyzing , collecting, and reporting information and or data. They are not responsible to report every issue or problem in America, they report the stories that are more interesting to them or which ever story seems more appealing to talk about. It should never be required to fill in gaps because people can choose to write about it or not. When you require them to fill in the gaps it seems as though it becomes a job. Citizen journalists don’t have the resources, the credibility, the knowledge, the training to develop stories. Furthermore citizens journalism is not as popular as Enterprise journalism, Analytic journalism, and Philanthrojournalism. These different types of journalism are popular by demand. Nevertheless people rely on citizens journalism to hear a different prospective of another human being.

  19. Citizen journalism will never completely “fill the news gap” left by changes in a news organization. Citizen journalists shouldn’t be expected to pick up the slack. Furthermore, news outlets shouldn’t rely on citizen journalists to generate work to create a safety net because the organization is understaffed. Any “assignments” that a citizen journalist completes should be considered “space fillers,” not necessary parts of the paper.

    While it is nice that people like to have their chance to report the news, it is not a realistic alternative to reporting the news. Yes, there may be people who want to spend their extra time writing up news reports or chasing down stories, but they might not be as dedicated to telling the news as someone who has decided to make journalism their career. It is likely that citizen journalism is a hobby in which the journalist can easily lose interest.

    If news organizations rely on citizen journalists, and the citizen journalists have lost interest in reporting the news, how will the general public stay informed?

  20. I don’t believe this is a realistic expectation, though it could happen, it’s not something that should be relied on. Citizen journalist shouldn’t be expected to fill the gaps of these organizations. Citizen journalists report news and cover stories for their own liking and to inform people, but they aren’t reporting because it’s required from anyone. The organizations that reduce their staffs will find other ways to fill those gaps. Also, citizen journalism is not nearly as popular as other organizations, so it would be kind of difficult for them to even possibly fill all those gaps. They don’t necessarily have the resources to spread as much as big organizations can. Even though the internet is used by so many people every day, it doesn’t mean people are always aware of everything that’s on it. For instance, I have asked several people I know and many have not even heard of citizen journalism. They were unfamiliar with it and were unsure of it being “real” information. In a nutshell, I just don’t believe this is a realistic expectation. Citizen journalism is not a paid organization that needs to fill these gaps and they also don’t have the resources to do so at the moment.

  21. I don’t believe it is necessarily an expectation of anyone for citizen journalists to fill the void left by cutbacks in major media organizations. However, with the sheer number of citizen journalists out there right now reporting on a multitude of different topics that conglomerates won’t even consider touching, it would be safe to say that the news gap will continue to be filled. With the advent of social media sites, blogs, and lesser known news sites; citizen journalists from all walks of life paid or voluntary are reporting a tremendous amount of information daily. It is not a lack of reporting that observers must worry about, but the accessibility of the information they are reporting on. Unfortunately for many of these citizen journalists they do not have the capacity to get the word out on a massive scale such as more established media outlets like the NY Times. The internet is vast, and navigating it can be at times both incredibly difficult and tedious, thus making it difficult for an average Joe to expose himself to what is out there so to speak.

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