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Thread: Citizen journalism - good or bad?

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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    Citizen journalism - good or bad?

    This story pretty well sets up the question - is citizen journalism a good thing? Some think it's a good thing, others say no.

    From his slurred babbling to his dumbstruck appearance, every sign of High Court Judge Nkola Motata's alleged inebriation was captured for posterity - not by a journalist, but by a member of the public using a cellphone.

    Motata's case is a classic example of citizen journalism, in which ordinary members of the public take on the role of journalists, and cover an unfolding story themselves. Their amateur efforts, recorded as events unfold rather than after the fact, often have immense impact.

    Probably the first major example of the impact of citizen journalism was the filming on March 3 1991, by an amateur photographer, of the brutal beating of a black Los Angeles man, Rodney King, by several white police officers.

    The immediacy with which an ordinary citizen's photographs and videos can be captured on his or her phone, and the speed at which these can be sent to news organisations, make the professional journalist's life much easier.

    But if the average citizen is able to capture such pivotal news stories in an instant, how much will news coverage be affected in the future?

    Professor Guy Berger, head of Rhodes University's journalism department, feels that "the number of people who can be involved in media production will increase into the future". He further states that "the mainstream media must link up with citizen reports and footage to ensure the best possible news coverage".

    Websites linked to specific newspapers, where the average civilian is given the opportunity to create blogs, as well as insert photographs and videos, he believes, are important sources that should be used by journalists.

    But while Berger feels the need for "mainstream media to integrate with citizen journalism", he questions whether "civilian journalism comes with the ethics and morals which are ensured by mainstream journalism".

    Moral questions surrounding citizen journalism could include the digital manipulation of photographs and videos, the staging of events, as well as whether the information and footage were acquired legally or not. If the professional journalist relies too heavily on citizens' reports, there is the danger of providing false footage and information to the public.

    The deputy chairperson of the South African National Editors' Forum, Thabo Leshilo, opposes the idea of citizen journalism in terms of these moral ethics. He asserts "it is the biggest nonsense" and that "it is definitely not journalism".

    "It opens up the way for a lot of things to be published that are not true," he says.
    full story from IOL here
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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    Diamond Member AndyD's Avatar
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    Citizen journalism has found a perfect outlet with youtube but I think its effects are still mainly entertainment for the masses rather than making people think twice before they act in case they get captured on a mobile device.
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    Diamond Member adrianh's Avatar
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    "he questions whether civilian journalism comes with the ethics and morals which are ensured by mainstream journalism"
    "It opens up the way for a lot of things to be published that are not true," he says."

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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    Events in Egypt might just change that. I saw a "background report" last night that suggested the roots of the current unrest can be traced to a Facebook page about some guy that got beaten up by cops for posting a video of corrupt police activities on Youtube.
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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