Citizen Journalism- The Story Of The People

Module 7- Major blog post

It is in this class that I first read of the concept of “Citizen’s Journalism”. I had always just thought of tweets and blogs as personal opinion pieces that I wasn’t all that interested in. I grew up assuming that what the news anchor said on television every night at 6pm was the whole truth and the only way to see certain issues. This class has, however, opened my eyes to the consideration that maybe not all people in the news are completely right.

In Bruns and Highfield’s article entitled “Blogs, Twitter, and breaking news: The produsage of citizen journalism”, they state that “Arguably, citizen journalism began as a direct and determined response to the perceived shortcomings of mainstream journalist coverage”(Bruns and Highfield). This reminds me of the Newsreel movement in documentary filmmaking in the late 1960s/early 1970s. Newsreel was a production and distribution company founded in 1967 in New york city and was a response to the political turmoil that surrounded the Vietnam war and the Civil Rights movement. Newsreel was created by a collective of journalists, filmmakers, photographers and those who were simply dissatisfied with the ‘establishment’ reportage of the mainstream media. Its aim was to present an alternative news source by making documentaries which would educate and inform the American public about issues they heard about on the news. I suppose we could consider this an early form of citizen journalism.

What I’ve understood about citizen journalism from the readings and my peers’ blogs is that it is now up to outside people to bring forth a potential argument to the mainstream media’s issues. It is up to us to go and find out if what they are saying is true and the right perspective. By reading blog articles and twitter feeds, we are exposed to issues and arguments that might not be readily available by mainstream news sources.

The two questions we were asked of in this module are as follows:
1) What new opportunities for citizen journalism and/or social activism are afforded
by social media?
2) Does the emergence of these new opportunities encourage you to participate more
directly in citizen journalism and/or social activism or not?

So to further answer the first question beyond what I’ve already said, social media are a fantastic way to find these citizen journalism posts. However, one must also keep in mind that many of the people on webites such as twitter are not necessarily the best sources for finding out information. It is very easy for someone to post a tweet or a blog ranting about their personal opinion on an issue, but again, one must be wary about the information they provide. Although I believe that Citizen journalism is a great way to find out different sides to many different topics and worldly issues, it is also a great way to be misinformed and get yourself into more trouble then its worth.

Now, in regards to the second question. Do these new opportunities for citizen journalism make me want to be more active and participate more in these discussions about social activism and such? My immediate thought is that I don’t have time to be active in the citizen journalism community and I’m too busy with school and work to get involved with social activism. But then on the other hand, could I consider my freetime consisting of lurking around on social media sites as part of this movement? Although I don’t go out of my way to write long blogs (outside of these module posts), I suppose I could consider my time reading and the occasional commenting on my twitter feed a form of citizen journalism.

In Alfred Hermida’s article entitled “Tweets and Truth”, he describes twitter as “Ambient Journalism”:
“Ambient journalism conceptualizes Twitter as an awareness system where multifaceted,
real-time digital networks enable the flow of news and information in the periphery of a
user’s awareness. As ambient journalism, Twitter provides a mix of news, information and
comment, usually connected to current reality, but without an established order. As a
result, journalism is not just in the process of negotiating a shift to a digital media
environment, but more significantly to a networked one (Singer, 2010)”. (Hermida, 660-661)

So I suppose, in this context, I’m contributing to the movement by retweeting and favouriting other peoples posts, as well as the occasional response to a tweet.

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