Saturday, November 15, 2008

Citizen Journalism: The Future of Journalism?

Journalism has had its share of ups and downs, all revolving around the idea that journalism, especially print journalism, has an uncertain future. Media convergence has become an increasingly important topic surrounding the future of journalism, and more media outlets have been asking their reporters to do more then just report. Most are now required to report, edit and take their own photos. One trend journalists have begun to use more often to deal with this added responsibility is “Citizen,” or “Community” Journalism.

When did citizen journalism become popular? According to one CNN report, The Sept. 11 attacks were an excellent example of citizen journalism. People took videos and pictures on their cell phones while the buildings were under attack and sent their coverage to national news networks. Hurricane Katrina was also widely covered by citizen journalists. Now CNN has its own site for citizen journalists, iReport. MSNBC also has a “virtual assignment desk,” so the public can help cover certain issues.

Other citizen Journalism sites include: iBrattleboro, Your Hub, Backfence and locally, Bluffton Today, in Bluffton, S.C.

Citizen Journalism’s intent as defined by Shayne Bowman and Chris Willis in their report We Media: How Audiences are shaping the Future of news and Information, is to “provide independent, reliable, accurate, wide-ranging and relevant information that a democracy requires."

But, is citizen journalism reliable? If journalism is supposed follow an unbiased principle, or as close as it can get to that, could citizen journalism, coverage by people who might not have had any formal training in journalism, be thorough, reliable and unbiased?

While browsing other blogs I came across a question that Mitch Joel asks, and that I also ask myself. Is witnessing the same as being a journalist?

Maybe citizen journalism is popular because it isn’t about being unbiased, but that everyday people are providing raw, critical information that some reporters might not have been able to get. I don’t think there is a correct answer to this question, but is definitely something to think about while citizen journalism becomes more popular. Is this the future of journalism?

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