It’s an ongoing debate. Who should the public trust, the professional or the citizen journalists? Those on either side often disregard their so-called rivals when in fact journalism is only enhanced when the two join forces.
Social media has aided the rapid increase in citizen journalism as everyone with a phone and internet access is able to broadcast to the world. Since then, it has become clearer how the public benefits when the two parties work together.
Here are just three examples.
- Citizen journalists provide the footage professionals sometimes can’t
Have you ever wondered why most news stories seem to have the vision of a scene as it unfolds? Well, everyday people are to thank for that. It’s near impossible a professional journalist will be at the scene as a major, unpredictable story occurs. However, these people are simply in the right place at the right time and become citizen journalists the second they begin to document a newsworthy event.
When the public sends in footage of such incidents, it helps journalists to create an engaging and “full” story. It also benefits the journalistic inquiry of the story as viewers or readers are able to see the events as they truly happened.
- It’s paramount in dangerous situations
Terror events or emergencies are often present within our news. The combination of citizen journalists and social media have become crucial in disseminating information in these situations. As mentioned above, journalists can’t be everywhere all the time so it’s important these people play watchdog for the public too. We, as outsiders, don’t know what’s happening at the scene without these people posting to social media.
Those who find themselves in such situations keep the public informed of the immediate danger. They are not only firsthand sources, but also contributors. Ultimately, it’s the public who benefits though, as the professional and citizen journalists can work together to broadcast information to protect and inform others of the situation at hand.
- Professionals and amateurs can together create change
In recent years, an increasing number of social movements have been in the public eye thanks to the reach of social media. Protests, rallies and cause-supporting hashtags have been broadcast to the world and as a result, injustices have been brought to light.
Citizen journalists often have no barriers when publishing work online, especially if it’s something they feel passionate about. Due to them bringing awareness to an issue, professional journalists are able to report further on the matter, creating even more awareness.
If working for a news organisation ALWAYS ensure you check the validity of your sources. This is crucial to ensure the public aren’t given misleading information, particularly in an emergency. Make sure to ask yourself these questions before using citizen journalist information.
- Is the source credible and reliable?
- Does what they’re saying link in with other available information?
- Are they actually at the scene?
- How did they get their information?
What are your thoughts about the professionals working with citizen journalists?
Are you now inclined to be on the watch for newsworthy events or think it should be left to the journalists?