Citizen Journalism: Advantages & Disadvantages

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  • 0:04 Citizen Journalism Definition
  • 1:00 Citizen Journalism Advantages
  • 3:08 Citizen Journalism…
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Summer Stewart

Summer has taught creative writing and sciences at the college level. She holds an MFA in Creative writing and a B.A.S. in English and Nutrition

Citizen journalism is news reporting done by the public and not journalists. Some major news events have been recorded by citizens who are in the right place at the right time. In this lesson, we will talk about the advantages and disadvantages of citizen journalism.

Citizen Journalism Definition

Imagine you're walking across campus and an Occupy or Black Lives Matter protest suddenly forms in front of the main administration building. You decide to pull out your camera phone and video tape the incident, and then provide it to a news outlet or share it on social media. You've just contributed to citizen journalism.

Citizen journalism is news reporting that is done by the people instead of professional journalists. This type of journalism can uncover facts not typically revealed by professional journalists because the public uses alternative sources to find information.

Citizen journalism can be delivered to the public via regular news outlets, online news outlets, social media, and video streaming sites such as YouTube. Let's look at the advantages and disadvantages of citizen journalism.

Citizen Journalism Advantages

Let's first take a look at some of the advantages to citizen journalism.

Being in the Moment

Capturing a crisis or event at the moment it happens is a major advantage of citizen journalism. One example of this would be people walking down the road in Charlottesville, Virginia, after a recent protest over Confederate statues and related issues when a car crashed into a group of protesters. Some of the people whipped out their phones and captured the entire event.

A citizen journalist can capture a crisis as it unfolds, unlike traditional journalism, which starts once a news station is notified of the event. By then, they've missed the actual event and are reporting on the evidence left behind.

Offers Multiple Vantage Points

Citizen journalism began for many reasons, but a major one was to provide a more accurate account of a story, looking at the issue from every angle. When hundreds or even thousands of citizens participate in the collection and reporting of an event, it makes it easier for the true story to emerge (and harder for anybody to slant the story in their favor).

When the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, was attacked by a gunman, multiple survivors contributed to the story with personal essays and interviews that helped the media convey what really went on in that theater to the rest of the country. All those perspectives, while not always objective, allow for a more engaged version of journalism.

Challenging the Media

Although we all wish it could be more objective, the media can be biased, and there are news outlets that promote a particular point of view while excluding others. With citizen journalists working to fact check major news outlets, the media can be held accountable for their reporting or be the subject of a lawsuit if they are caught telling lies. In a way, citizen journalists work for the public.

Citizen Journalism Disadvantages

Let's now take a look at some of the disadvantages to citizen journalism.

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