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Citizen Journalism – putting citizens’ views into journalism

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Citizen journalism sites like Channel News Asia’s Your News portal, and Straits Times Online Media Print (STOMP) provides a platform for everyday people to post happenings that news agencies like them can spin into full fledged news reports.

With the onset of social media, the world of journalism has evolved rapidly over the last 5 years. Before social media, the news journalism revolves around a selected army of journalists, working with a rigid editorial process that determines what news to be printed on papers.

However, with the invasion of the internet, suddenly everyone can be a journalist. No need for any editorial process, citizen journalism is all about writing what you see, and pushing out the content of what you see to the crowds on various social platforms.

Unlike traditional newspapers, social networks provide a ready pool of users that would be eager to see what you see. Based on the same principals that made social media platforms successful, people consuming these platforms are always interested to see what their peers – that guy next door – is looking at.

Due to the ease of publishing, anyone can upload happenings. Because of this ease, citizen journalism could be faster and more accurate then traditional news agencies. This appears to be apparent, with many of today’s newspaper stories originating from citizen’s reportage.

To demonstrate this, I personally did a small experiment on how a snippet of a happening I saw became national news.

Sometime ago, there was this commotion at the car park right below my block. A Malay couple appears to be in a rather violent quarrel, complete with the lady shoving and screaming. Police were called in to mediate, but unfortunately, the couple did not show any sign of cooling down. Like a set straight out of a soap drama, the lady was arrested after much attempts to calm her down.

The thread I posted on HardwareZone on the commotion I saw at the car park right at the foot of my block

From my kitchen window 6 floors up, I took my camera and started to snap pictures of the happenings below, and posted what I saw on a popular local online forum, HardwareZone forums.

Someone sent STOMP what I saw at my kitchen window and it appeared on the citizen journalism portal the next morning.

Within hours, my thread on the forum was sent to STOMP, a popular local citizen journalism site by an anonymous user who probably saw my post.

After appearing on STOMP, Lianhe Wanbao picked up the news, and it appeared on the cover of the Chinese evening daily the next evening.

That very same evening, Lianhe Wanbao, a Chinese evening daily picked up this very same piece of news, and ran it on the front cover.

The next day after Lianhe Wanbao (two days after the incident) used the story on their cover, The Newpaper ran the story on their cover as well.

At the same time, a reporter from The Newpaper, an English tabloid, contacted me via the forums’ private messaging system for an interview on the pictures I shot, and to give them an eyewitness’ account of what happened.

The story appeared on The Newpaper cover the next day.

So this small experiment demonstrated the power of citizen journalism, of how one person’s pictorial account could become national news appearing news covers.

But more importantly, it is also a show of the force behind citizen journalism – the idea that anyone can be a reporter, having a say on how national news is crafted.

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Written by garygoh

April 6, 2011 at 3:41 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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