Thursday, April 26, 2012

Citizen Journalism

        Nicholas Leeman, the author of "Amateur Hour" on, discusses the concept of "citizen journalism" where people who aren't employed by actual news organizations publish works on these news sites. The categories of material have appeared to be very distinct, including that of pure opinion (often political) as well as information (which has often already been published by another media source). Out of the 12 million bloggers in the United States, a reported 34% of them consider it to be a form of journalism. Although it may be more or less than some may think, it is obviously a skewed survey seeing as the data has to have been taken from a sample size rather than the entire population. 
        However this does not hide the fact that the number of web journalists has rapidly increased over the last decade, with this concept of "citizen journalism" having both positives and negatives. Many people aren't aware of the true story behind their publishings/postings but are creating an enriched version of the original story, or are re-wording it- often referencing links to professional sites and stories. The editor-in-chief- of Oh My News explains that news isn't made only by George Bush, Bill Gates, etc. but by people thinking collectively as well. However he doesn't support his argument that the news from the people is any more legitimate than these politicians/business men who are higher up on the social ladder. Mass media has transformed from pamphlets and periodicals to online blogging; publishings are often biased, ignore, or suppress important stories and facts, many also just pass on information that is told and present them as reality. A positive development however, is the opportunity to create discussion with news organizations online. Readers can pose questions to reporters and debate the opposing side and bring in facts that may have been originally ignored. In the opinion of Tennessee law professor Glenn Reynolds, "Many unknowns can do it better than the lords of the profession". Adding to citizen journalism is the role of the eye witness; everyday people accidentally experiencing some sort of disaster or significant event, who are able to take photo's and videos providing raw material and information for journalistic purposes. 
        Leeman explains that, "Societies create structures of authority for producing and distributing knowledge, information, and opinion. These structures are always waxing and waning, depending not only on the invention of new means of communication but also on political, cultural, and economic developments." Because of the vast amount of citizen journalism sites and posts, they often reach small, specialized audiences while the old-fashioned big-city newspapers and television networks make a more legitimate and widespread impact. In referring to the internet Leeman says that, "Potentially, it is the best reporting medium ever invented." in relation to the actual good journalism that is provided by some sites, such as Yahoo!

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