Citizen journalism has become a very popular practice with the use of smartphones, glasses-based cameras, and other tools that make it easier for the average person to report the latest breaking news. The average person is now able to broadcast their experiences to the world at the very time of having these experiences, which is great, but it also has its problems. We live in an age where likes and retweets control what we post on social media because we want the instant gratification, so we post without giving thought to if what we are posting is the truth.
Citizen journalism through ‘live tweeting’ one’s experience, posting the scene on one’s Snapchat story, or posting an Instagram live video may not give viewers the whole story. Viewers are only seeing or reading what the citizen journalist is experiencing, which may not be an accurate representation of the whole situation at hand. This creates an incredible amount of bias in the information that viewers or readers are receiving. Also, the “news” that the citizen journalist is reporting could strictly be opinion based with no facts to back up their point, but viewers may not fact check their source, therefore they’re being filled with information that could be incorrect.
While there are many issues with citizen journalism, there are some positives associated with it. As mentioned before, the information that citizen journalists are posting may not always be correct, but the event at hand is happening right then. Citizen journalism is more than likely the quickest way to be updated on an event or situation because everyone wants the instant gratification of posting right when the event or situation happens. Another positive of citizen journalism is that viewers are able to directly interact with the citizen journalist over social media to ask questions whereas with traditional news reports there is no way to interact with the news reporter. In addition, citizen journalism allows viewers to see a more realistic view of what is occurring rather than a view that is staged by a cameraman to ensure viewers are seeing what the news wants them to see.
As with all aspects of social media, there are negatives and positives associated with citizen journalism. I truly think the most important thing to keep in mind while viewing or reading a citizen journalist is to remember that the journalist is probably excited to be reporting this information and emotions may get in the way of facts. It’s important for viewers or readers to fact check the information that they were given to ensure that the news they received is true.