Citizen Journalism

12Sep11

Over the last few years there has been an evident increase in “the role of the customer as the co-creater of the media message” in the field of journalism. (Media Work, 75) News media outlets have used user-generated accounts of events to bring the news to the public. In this sense the public, who are also the customers, have become the creators of the news message. One example of citizen journalism is CNN’s “iReport.” As CNN explains it, iReport is “where people take part in the news with CNN. Your voice, together with other iReporters, helps shape how and what CNN covers every day.” (http://ireport.cnn.com/) In recent times, we have seen citizen journalism front-and-center in the coverage of the revolutions and civil unrest that have been taking place. “Andy Carvin, a strategist for social media at National Public Radio who has been active in following the Arab Spring” told the New York Times that “’If you see 30 or 40 people describing what was happening it almost becomes a form of situational awareness, like you’re floating above it in a helicopter.” (On 9/11, the Seeds of the Infinite Grapevine) Citizen journalism allows customers to receive information that traditional producers would not be able to provide.

In the wake of the 10th anniversary of 9/11, it is interesting to imagine how accounts of what was taking place would have differed “had it happened after the development of our current create-while-consuming media ethos.” (On 9/11, the Seeds of the Infinite Grapevine) This type of convergence has great social utility, but it is important to realize the disadvantages to this new wave of doing journalism. Convergence in news media has lead to less censorship, which can be a good or bad thing. Good in that it brings us closer to realness, but bad because sometimes filters are necessary. While the public has access to more information in its rawness, privacy issues and graphic depictions increase. A healthy balance is what the media must find with this type of convergence.

–Sade Oshinubi

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