Citizen Journalists; Friend or Foe to the Future of Journalism?

The digital age has emerged in the twentieth century which has dramatically changed the way audiences’ view and access information. Cameras, blogs, Twitter and the internet in general have introduced the thought of gaining information at the click of a button but also the ability to produce and create one’s own media agenda to the point where a citizen journalist could be anyone. Luke Goode, an advocate of citizen journalism and democracy defines citizen journalism as a web-based practice whereby ‘ordinary’ users participate in journalistic practices using video or mobile phones.  So the question remains, is this good or bad for professional journalists?

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Thorsten Quandt believes there are two types of journalists; segregationists who believe user generated contributions should be kept separate from their professional work and integrationist who embrace the citizen journalists and believe in co-creation.

In Australia, bloggers and journalists are kept separately and individual contributions to the media sphere are not recognised as journalistic sources. Therefore journalistic codes do not apply, such as source confidentiality. Fiona Martin, a Professor in Online and Convergent Media, believes this raises issues for participatory journalists as themselves or their sources are not protected under state law. An example of the repercussions of this could be the website WikiLeaks. Dangers arise regarding privacy issues and the source could be in danger if the story is tracked.

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Citizen journalism can at times help professional journalists. It can provide information that journalists had not previously seen or reported. The story can also be spread worldwide in an instance which ultimately brings people together. Consumers can be more involved and have the option to in-depth news that isn’t subjected to a journalist’s political agenda. User generated content can assist professional journalists if the correct information is reported. As Quandt concludes, change is inevitable and due to the convergence of new media citizen journalism will continue to thrive and be another source of information.          Lauren Northover

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