Social Media and Engaging in Citizen Journalism

      The world wide web (WWW) is a fascinating sphere which has evidently evolved in past decades. Social media is one aspect in which the WWW has evolved. Some people see social media as a good, and others see it as an evil. I believe that social media has been a great medium for both citizen journalism and social activism. Ever since joining social media sites I am able to keep up to date with the latest news easier and quicker. I am also able to connect with organizations from all around the world on sites like Twitter and Facebook.  If people are interested in something than they can easily “like” or “follow” their page and connect. The Internet is very influential nowadays. Jenkins and Thorburn (2003) note that 50% of Internet users under the age of thirty said the internet had affected their vote in elections- findings that suggest a generational shift in political culture. Indeed, the internet has been substantial in politics (look at Barack Obama in the first election). The Internet and emergence of social media has also been important in citizen journalism and impacts new ways of journalism.

     Citizen journalism refers to the accumulation of largely journalistic activities which draw on the voluntary contributions of a wide-ranging and distributed network of self-selected participants (Bruns & Highfield, 2012, 4). I believe citizen journalism is a collective way of democratically using and producing news. I believe new advances in social media encourage participation in citizen journalism and social activism. As mentioned earlier, I am certainly an active consumer of social media and am in many ways utilizing it to become more socially active. I believe that citizen journalism is interesting. It allows people who are usually the audience to now inform others of news and become journalists in their own way. In many ways I re-tweet to bring awareness or to share a news story. I am becoming a journalist in my own way, no credentials, just passion for issues and a Twitter account.

     Bruns and Highfield (2012) address the issue of objectivity in journalism.  Since much new media and journalism involved commentary this brings forth issues of the journalistic ideal of objectivity. However, I agree with the authors in suggesting that objectivity “remains little more than an ideal” in professional journalism, and have been deeply compromised in practice by political and corporate pressures (Bruns & Highfield, 2012, 6). If regular news is biased and politically driven than citizen journalism should not be any more credible or objective. I think social media sources such as Twitter are a great way to reproduce news even if it is just 140 characters. Twitter describes itself as ‘‘a real-time information network that connects you to the latest information about what you find interesting’’ (Hermida, 2012, 660). However, Twitter poses a dilemma for a profession based on a control of verification, critics point to the amount of unsubstantiated material on Twitter, questioning the credibility of messages (Hermida, 2013, 663). If people are recreating news on Twitter and becoming citizen journalists than they probably are interested in the topic. I believe if people are reporting news on Twitter than regular people viewing the tweets ought to verify its accuracy. However, nowadays people on twitter can release information, and then “actual” news sources will get a hold of the information. I certainly think tweets are a great new medium for news. As mentioned, if regular news sources can not be “trusted”, then citizen journalism can be a great alternative to news media and told by someone who is engaged in the topic. 

 

References

Bruns, A. & T. Highfield. (2012). Blogs, Twitter, and breaking news: The produsage of citizen journalism. pre-publication draft on personal site [Snurb.info]. Published in: Lind, R. A. ed. (2012). Produsing Theory in a Digital World: The Intersection of Audiences and Production. New York: Peter Lang. p15-32.

Hermida, A. (2012). TWEETS AND TRUTH: Journalism as a discipline of collaborative verificationJournalism Practice. 6:5-6, p659-668.

Jenkins, H. & D. Thorburn. Introduction: The Digital Revolution, the Informed Citizen, and the Culture of Democracy. in Jenkins, H. & D. Thorburn eds. (2003). Democracy and New Media. Cambridge MA: MIT Press. p1-17.