Citizen Journalism is a grassroots movement in which average citizens, rather than trained/professional journalists, use the internet to relay information and stories. The term “citizen journalism” was created in the year 2000, according to the Salem Press Encyclopedia (Kivak 2016). This form of broadcasting became more popular as people felt a lot of important news was often being, “ignored by mainstream media,” (Kivak 2016). Technology as it is known today allows citizen journalists to share news easily and quickly. This is most often done in the form of blogs and social media posts.
This image is a depiction of what a lot of citizen journalism looks like today. This is a fair use image as it is being used for educational purposes.
Although types of citizen journalism have existed in the United States since the beginning of the country’s time, it was not until the late 1990s that this style of broadcasting started to become popular. With the rise of popularity of the internet, citizen journalism had a place to grow and spread much more easily than ever before. This has led to a decrease in viewers for many customary media outlets (Kivak 2016) and caused more competition in the media world. The internet now contains “thousands of alternative news sites,” and millions of blogs (Kivak 2016). It is these sorts of networks that are competing with and changing the role of traditional journalism. With this, “it is estimated that there are 1.6 million new postings per day,” in the world of blogging (Huang 2007). That amount is constantly growing along with the number of blogs themselves.
Even with the rise of citizen journalism, there is skepticism that comes with it. Many people worry that, “non-professionals may not be considered as credible as professional journalists,” due to their lack of education on the matter (Kivak 2016). There is worry that many untrained journalists do not separate their bias from their news posts. Without the same amount of regulation as is required in traditional journalism, this prejudice is a possibility.
This image represents citizen journalism in the form of social media. This is a fair use image as it is being used for educational purposes.
Not all forms of citizen journalism are news stories. It is common on social media, such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, to see posts sharing an opinion, although still often on the topic of a current event. These ideas being shared can potentially spread new thoughts as the posts increase views, “globally and instantly on the Internet,” (Kivak 2016). This is one major motivation behind citizen journalism, average people having the opportunity to contribute their beliefs to the most recent events happening in the world.
Within citizen journalism, specifically blogging, it is more common to see a variety of types of articles. While social media posts often contain information about politics or current events, blogs vary a bit more. Bloggers five major motivations are, “self-expression, life documenting, commenting, forum participating, and information searching,” (Huang 2007). Blogs are also more likely to contain emotional and personal details. This information shows that within citizen journalism, there are many differing types of ideas being spread.
Despite the fact that citizen journalism has struggled to gain a ton of credibility, especially compared to traditional journalism, citizen journalism is building and growing trust. More large media outlets are creating their own blogs and incorporating citizen journalism into their workforce. Citizen journalism is a continuously growing phenomenon that allows expression of any person who has access to the internet.
Kivak, R. (2016). Citizen Journalism. Salem Press Encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://washcoll.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ers&AN=119214038&site=eds-live
Chun-Yao Huang, Yong-Zheng Shen, Hong-Xiang Lin, & Shin-Shin Chang. (2007). Bloggers’ Motivations and Behaviors: A Model. Journal of Advertising Research, 47(4), 472–484.
Written by Amy Luther, 2018.