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 http://www.britannica.com.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/EBchecked/topic/1271506/citizen-journalism
Johnson, S. (2009). How Twitter Will Change The Way We Live. Time