A Bridge To Knowledge Or Mislead?

Citizen Journalism
Image Credits: Freepik

In today’s digital age, the term Citizen Journalism has come to life and has changed the face of journalism permanently. Citizen Journalism, also known as participatory journalism or street journalism, refers to the non-reporters reporting an incident or event, basically news, through social media. In this type of journalism, news can be reported in any form. It can be written in a blog or recorded as a video or audio to post on social media. Live pictures posted directly from the news scenes are also a form of citizen Journalism. 

Therefore in today’s time, Citizen Journalism has become a way for the public to be updated about events happening around them without actually being present on the spot. This helps in keeping up with the latest news and trends. In addition, it is an opportunity for everyone to be heard as well as to play an active role in society. 

History of Citizen Journalism 

To grasp the concept of Citizen Journalism, it’s crucial to delve into its history. While the University of Missouri established the first formal school for Journalism in 1908, newspapers had long been in existence before that. But who reported the news for these newspapers in the absence of professional journalists? The answer lies in Citizen Journalism.

People from all backgrounds played the role of journalists without having proper knowledge or practice of journalism. However, looking at the recent history of citizen journalism it has thoroughly developed in this digital age. With the advances in technology, the Internet has helped a lot in its development and recognition of it. In a way, the existence of citizen Journalism in today’s world would have degraded if not for the Internet. Therefore, new technologies like advanced cameras and smartphones have made it easier.

Undoubtedly, it did exist before the birth of the digitalized era but today’s era has advanced the way of reporting in it.

Image Credits: Freepik

Benefits of Citizen Journalism 

Citizen Journalism has made it easier to access the information of present events as it has expanded the source of information. This allows news from one part of the world to be updated in another, keeping people informed about events happening everywhere.

Citizen Journalism is now a means to put forth the views and opinions of people as well as to raise the voices against injustice. Through this kind of journalism, things have become more transparent. As it has the power to reach a place where journalists are not allowed. In a way, this helps with public engagement and empowerment.

Drawbacks of Citizen Journalism 

As beneficial as Citizen Journalism is, it also has its drawbacks. One of those is credibility. Reports from a citizen journalist may sometimes lack credibility. In such a case, the public may be misled with wrong information. Professional journalists are trained in fact-checking and setting boundaries to not cross ethical guidelines, but in the case of Citizen Journalism, there’s a lack of professionalism and ethics, and the accuracy of the news is always in question. 

Citizen Journalism may be biased, whereas professional journalists have to keep a fair and unbiased view with no distractions but Citizen Journalists do not comply with that. They may show favouritism and unprofessional opinions. It may exaggerate an issue, intentionally or not.

Generally, while reporting on sensitive topics this type of journalism could increase a legal risk. Sometimes while reporting, Citizen journalists may break some rules and laws accidentally. This may cause harm to the citizens and the people related to the report.

Positive cases of citizen Journalism:

1) During the COVID-19 pandemic, Citizen Journalism played a great role in covering the impacts of the virus around the world. Citizen journalists kept the world updated through their firsthand reports. They disseminated details about the supply of resources and responses. During the pandemic, it helped in encouraging people.

2) One of the well-known case studies of this Journalism is the Arab Spring (early 2010s). During the protests, common people used social media as a platform to share real-time updates, images and videos of the events to people around the world. It helped in the dissemination of awareness globally. At that time traditional media was restricted due to censorship and hence it became difficult to report the events. Social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook played as a weapon for the citizens to report about the local situation.

3) The Mumbai attack in 2008 is also an example of citizen Journalism in India. All significant images of the places where the attack took place were shared through Twitter.

Negative cases of citizen Journalism:

1) During the COVID-19 pandemic, Citizen Journalists were responsible for spreading misinformation and misleading the public. They conspired with misleading theories about the virus that raised a wave of terror in people.

2) In 2013, after the Boston Marathon bombing, many citizen journalists disseminated false information about the motive behind the bombing and the identification of the person behind it. This led to the spread of false information on social media like Twitter and an atmosphere of tension was raised among the local people. 

3) One of the most recent fake news that went viral involved actress Poonam Pandey. She spread fake news of her death through social media and misled people about her death. However, later it was cleared that this stunt was pulled to make people aware of cervical cancer. 


Therefore, in conclusion, citizen journalism is still a varied phenomenon. It’s a blend of advantages and disadvantages. While citizen journalism provides a varied source of information, connects people and culture and gives a different perspective it still raises concerns with legal risk, ethics and accuracy among other things. 

Although this phenomenon has prompted many to come forward and speak out, each individual involved also bears responsibility for their actions. Before posting or reporting anything, it is the responsibility of the individual to verify the information and do a thorough investigation of the source. It is also the responsibility of the consumer to assess the accuracy and reliability of the news before spreading it blindly. 

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