According to the Oxford Dictionary citizen journalism is “the collection, dissemination, and analysis of news and information by the general public, especially by means of the Internet”.
As first said by Pierre levy, the main theme of citizen journalism is that “nobody knows everything, but everybody knows something”. Authority is the essence of gatekeeping, and citizen journalism is the absence of authority. It is an open process, with no closure and is continuously under development due to advancing technology.
There are many benefits to citizen journalism. Professional reporters cannot be everywhere, especially if the event is breaking news and they don’t know about it yet. This is where citizen journalists come in and use the internet to alert the general public and the media, while also being able to provide images or recordings of the event. This was certainly the case with a helicopter crash in London earlier this year. The incident occurred at around 8am on January 23rd and almost immediately citizen journalists we tweeting about the accident, while it took news agencies about 15 minutes to pick up on the news. The first video of the accident was posted online within ten minutes of it occurring, and news broadcasts were using mainly this footage for several hours after the incident occurred.
Follow this link for a great video on how citizen journalism affected the spread of information about the London helicopter crash.
While I think citizen journalism can be advantageous, such as the fact that it is free of government and military agenda and censorship, there are also some disadvantages or criticisms. For example, many citizen journalists don’t have the vast resources on hand to fact check their information like the news companies do. Most of the time people assume that the information on a professional news broadcast has been verified and is true, whereas citizen journalism cannot always assumed to be fact. This was also apparent in the case previously mentioned, people were posting information online and telling everyone it was a terrorist attack. Metropolitan police later identified there were no suspicious details, leaving those who cried terrorist looking like fools.