Citizen journalism search engine

Animals Australia's Factory Farming campaign encouraging 
activists to tweet for the campaign. Source: Make It Possible Facebook

Citizen journalism is an increasing area in the media sphere. Firstly perhaps I should define what citizen journalism is; Citizen Journalism is journalism conducted by individuals that are not professional journalists. They conduct this journalism by using websites, blogs and social media (Encyclopedia Britannica 2013). Citizen journalism has allowed the often silent consumer to now have a voice, and this has seen the rise of many activist campaigns. A reason for this is the internet is a free medium and does not have gatekeepers. However, with the lack of gatekeepers we have seen the decline in the quality of work produced and decline in the credibility of sources. Though this does not mean that because citizen journalism is conducted by those that are not professionals that all citizen journalism sources lack credibility and quality. On the contrary Bruns (2009 ) notes that citizen journalism provides a ‘news as process, provides an unfinished coverage of topics and events which merely invite user participation’.

With the example of Twitter, however, a ‘news in progress’ (Bruns 2009) solo tweet from an individual will not amount to much and can be seen to perhaps be a rumour, however, through Twitters use of hashtag’s this allows tweets about a topic to be aggregated. Aggregated tweets have more of an impact about an issue and are more credible due to the amount of others possibly also tweeting about the subject. Aggregated tweets allows a person to research and note if many others are also sharing similar information to determine whether the tweet is a fact or fiction. Johnson (2009 p.3) stated Twitter’s search box gives you a real-time view into the ‘chatter’ of any topic. Thus, aggregation of these tweets has actually lead to Twitter becoming a type of search engine especially with individuals sharing links to content rather than writing on the topic due to the short word limit of 140 characters.

Citizen journalism is perfect for activism to be achieved by organizations, especially as social media sites such as Twitter are free to create an account and share content and only cost money if they decide to promote a tweet or if they require staff to manage the site. This has also allowed activism to be shared to a larger audience simultaneously and then continue to be shared. Especially if celebrities share a campaign from a charity they support this could receive a million views depending on how many users follow them.  My example is the above shared image of Animals Australia’s tweet to Make it Possible campaign, which is part of their larger Make It Possible Campaign. This is encouraging citizen journalism to take place to support their campaign as they recognize that if enough people tweet simultaneously, the impact that this aggregation of tweets can have can be limitless.

Therefore, we are all citizen journalists in our own way whether you are like me and writing a blog or you are tweeting for you charity.

What kind of citizen journalism have you undertaken today if any?



Bruns, A. (2009) ‘News Blogs and Citizen Journalism: New Directions for e-Journalism’

citizen journalism 2013. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Retrieved 20 September, 2013, from

Johnson, S. (2009). How Twitter Will Change The Way We Live. Time


5 thoughts on “Citizen journalism search engine

  1. Social media has allowed “activism” to be shared more widely amongst social media users simultaneously, however social media has started a trend in “slacktivism”. Social media isn’t necessarily helping activism, it’s hindering it.

    UNICEF have launched a marketing campaign that fights back against online activism, and states that “likes don’t save lives, money does”.

    So is citizen journalism and social media supporting charity at all?

  2. Really interesting post as always Amy. I think that twitter and other social media are definitely great for activists or charity organisations, especially as promotional tools. (e.g. which employs a whole range of social media to support their cause). However, in regards to hash tags making a tweet more credible because there are people behind it I’m going to have to disagree. There are so many internet trolls these days and we’ve seen time and time again that just because a large number of people believe that something is true doesn’t make it so. Take for instance when it was spread around twitter that Justine Bieber had cancer. There was a hash tag #BaldforBieber and many fans ended up shaving there heads. However, this was all a hoax. Hash tags and group mentality can be used for both good and evil.

  3. The invention of the hashtag by users, which has enabled the aggregation of content, is one of the best innovations of the site. It has allowed twitter to reach a wider audience for example Fans #OneDriection can talk to their favourite boy bands, #QandA viewers interact with two mediums and can enhance the conversation between the online audience (the debate continues) and radio stations often use Twitter to host competitions. The platform offers endless opportunities and has extended communication immensely. I’m excited to see where it will take us in the future. Check out what’s trending as of the 22nd of September

  4. The desire to be a part of our culture is something that i believe is the main drive behind citizen journalism. Everybody wants to be a part of what is happening in the world, and using the Internet to express your opinions and reporting on things you have seen is one of the easiest ways to do that. Reporting live on Twitter in 140 characters is easy, and thats why so many people have taken a liking to it. During the Boston Bombings last year, most of the information the reached people around the world came from personal Twitter accounts. People would give their personal account of what occurred that day. In my opinion, citizen journalism much like what happens on Twitter, is keeping mass media honest. If people can get first hand accounts of what is happening in the world, it makes it a lot harder for the media to fabricate one sided accounts.
    Of course, everything doesn’t always go to plan-

  5. I wasn’t aware of Twitter becoming known as somewhat of a ‘search engine’ which is really interesting because of the power that it does harness. People everyday are tweeting about different, new and crazy things, so I’m sure that if you searched hard enough through Twitter you could most certainly find anything that you were looking for.

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