The Power of the Press in Your Hands
What is citizen journalism?
Citizen journalism, also called “participatory journalism” is created by everyday people who document local news, share community resources, and use their own platforms to spread factual information. Citizen journalists can help to water a news desert. In areas with mainstream media, this form of information sharing takes place outside of the traditional media framework and can function as a kind of “firewall” which can hold traditional news media accountable for its coverage.
But how to do it, accurately, fairly, telling a story. We will help you with these bespoke videos created for this project.
Becoming a citizen Journalist
San Diego Union-Tribune Public Safety Editor Dana Littlefield on Interviewing
How to Build Sources Zoë Meyers from inewsource
Considerations for Becoming a Citizen Journalist
Similarly to the ideals of traditional journalism, citizen journalism requires a high degree of responsibility, including an orientation towards unbiased fact and, ideally, representation of many sides of an issue. It is also valuable to use factual research from widely recognized, reputable sources to support information gathered via citizen journalism wherever possible.
While this movement’s ability to create real-time updates and by-the-minute coverage can be valuable, it is important to temper publication of this potentially quickly-changing information with a balanced perspective. Without such safeguards, citizen journalism can easily become a vessel for the very thing it aims to overturn – biased or unfair representations of the facts.
As a citizen journalist, you have certain rights as you would normally, but you are also held to certain legal standards similar to those of traditional journalists, like those pertaining to libel, slander, and defamation. Find more information about the rights and risks of citizen journalists here.
Examples of Citizen Journalism In Action
2010’s Arab Spring revolutionary movement
2010’s Arab Spring revolutionary movement helped to herald in the citizen journalism movement globally; everyday people circumvented the narratives of government media by posting real-time photos, running blogs, and making social media posts about the facts as they were occurring on the ground. The impact of such stories demonstrated the power of citizen journalism on a large scale for the first time.
Citizens of Hong Kong
When citizens of Hong Kong used similar tactics in the pro-democracy protests of recent years, the government persecuted some citizen journalists with prison sentences and sanctions. Citizen journalism is not always easy and can even be dangerous, especially in countries with authoritarian regimes. However, such anti-democratic governmental actions against it proves its necessity.
How to become a citizen journalist
It’s easy nowadays to set up a website and get your own web domain. You can use WordPress and all its built-in tools to design a site for free, and domain registration is quite cheap. It’s up to you how you set up your website: it might be an individual blog, or perhaps you want to set up a platform that multiple people will use to post stories and information. (Either way, it’s relatively easy to get set up.) You can learn more about how to get started with WordPress at learn.wordpress.com
To create content, all you need is a smartphone or tablet and an internet connection. You can pay for good video editing software, but if you want to just focus on getting a basic job done there are decent free editing suites which should do the trick. With Google and YouTube, you don’t need to worry about not already having these skills – tutorials are a huge help, and while you might not become a professional editor overnight you will gain enough knowledge to do a half-decent editing job. Just search “video editing beginners tutorial.” All of these steps apply to podcasts as well. They will require audio editing software and, if you want to get fancy, a USB microphone as well.
Some people rise to prominence by using social media to report information or offer analysis. Using Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other platforms, especially including photos or videos, can be a good way to build an audience network.