Citizen journalism is an alternative media to mainstream media institutions. The public citizens, who used to be at the receiving end of the news, is now actively engaged in collecting, editing and distributing news and information throughonline resources. The public now has access to tools like blogging software and digital camera which has contributed substantially to the rise of citizen journalism. General mistrust in the mainstream media coupled with lack of representation for local news in major channels can be attributed to the growth of citizen journalism.
For many people citizen journalism is a refreshing change from the privately owned mainstream media outlets which often function as a mouthpiece for people in power. But there are many who doubt the credibility of online journalists.
Let’s discuss the advantages and disadvantages of citizen journalism.
Better news coverage
According to Bestinau.com.au, it provides information which is often ignored by mainstream media.Sometimes, local news is not covered by major news channels as they are not considered important enough. For such news, people look to citizen journalists to report it correctly.
Citizens of countries where the narrative of national media is heavily controlled by the government,depend on citizen journalists to bring out the truth.
In traditional journalism, the audience is subjected to the opinions of a single journalist. As consumers of news, we get to view an event from multiple vantage points through online news. People who belong to a community prefer one of their own to report the ongoings of their community. Citizen journalism provides a more personalized view.
Because of their online presence, citizen journalists have the capability of reaching a wider audience. The audience is able to interact with the writer as well as other readers through online polls and comments.
Major news channels and newspapers report news that is often censored. We are subjected to the “official version” of events which may not always be truthful. Compared to that online news is raw and uncensored.
No formal training
In most of the cases, citizen journalists do not have any formal training in journalism. This can adversely affect the quality of their pieces. The skill of a professional journalist does matter in reporting news accurately.
Unlike professional journalists, citizen journalists do not have the knowledge or enough resources for fact checking before putting out a news item. They also tend to write speculative pieces which is not compatible with the ethics of journalism. We also encounter a lot of disinformation in online journals which is deliberately put there to sway public mindset.
Citizen journalists sometimes report news with very biased opinions. An ordinary person is incapable of writing without being influenced by his own ideas which often leads to misrepresentation and misinterpretation of data. The objectivity of news is often lost because of that.
Despite their many disadvantages citizen journalists are inevitable as they hold mainstream media accountable. Instead of ostracizing online journalists as unprofessional, traditional news channels should form a partnership with citizen journalists. It would quite beneficial for the general public.