Essay Example on Citizen Journalism can be traced back to the later part of the twentieth century

Citizen Journalism can be traced back to the later part of the twentieth century. This new form of journalism refers to collections of terms as a citizen activist and public journalism and all these terms point at journalism having another agenda, other than news production as a commodity to be sold. According to research and study citizen journalism began in the USA in the last decade of the twentieth century because of the strides made in corporate news media and the lack of trust in journalists at the time Jay R 2003. In many countries, the industrial news media is faced with corporatization and commercialization which remains an issue the same as the control of media by political interests. Abiodun et al 2011 p 11 shared more light on the discussion about citizen journalism where he said: Citizen journalism is journalism of the people by the people and for the people. It is the kind of journalism that demystifies the practice of journalism and makes it an all-comers affair. It is that kind of journalism that tends to make everybody the Source and the Receiver, the Encoder and the Decoder at the same time. It is that kind of journalism practice that purports to include everybody Abiodun 2011 p 11 Citizen journalism.

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When we look at the phrase citizen journalism which is widely floated and unsteadily defined Jay Rosen 2006 referred to the people as citizen journalists, this illustration is loose as far as citizen journalism has to do with all forms of public engagement and response to the news. Citizen journalists are characterized as news producing consumers and also in opposition to professional journalists as competitor colleagues Deuze 2007 122. These definitions have not really explained what citizen journalists do or whether there is a striking difference from other forms of journalism and over the last two decades citizen journalism has been used to signify different ideas. Originally citizen journalism was referred to as groups of citizens in their own communities reporting on events using the internet, something the increasingly corporatized and commercialized press failed to do. Also, it can be referred to as people providing media content to other more formal such as the provision of video footage of events even though it is distinguished commonly as user generated content. According to Bowman and Willis 2003 and Dan Gillmor 2004a, a new phase of citizen journalism came into circulation at the beginning of the twenty-first century. However, despite the specificity of the circumstances the phrase citizen journalism caught on and was presented as both a threat and possible savior of mainstream commercial and professional journalism.
 As the awareness of citizen journalism grows globally there is this level of perplexity about the origin and meaning of citizen journalism. Based on finding and various research work we can judge by the innumerable epithets as itemized above. This whole perplexity is evidently propelled by the unpredictability about what makes up citizen journalism and who a citizen journalist is. For this reason, Glaser 2006 stated that there is some controversy over the term citizen journalism because many professional journalists believe that only a trained journalist can understand the rigors and ethics involved in reporting the news. And conversely, there are many trained journalists who practice what might be considered citizen journalism by writing their own blogs or commentary online outside of the traditional journalism hierarchy. For the purpose of this paper, the definition by Bowman and Willis 2003 is used which states that the act of a citizen or group of citizens playing an active role in the process of collecting reporting, analyzing and disseminating news and information. The aim of this participation is to provide independent, reliable, accurate, wide-ranging and relevant information, that democracy requires Bowman and Willis 2003 p9. This identifies citizen journalism strongly around the area of activism and confines of the roles of not just user-generated content collected, but also has to do with the production and distribution of the news collected. Many citizen journalists see themselves as citizen activists thereby putting themselves into the story. In some cases, they are at the wrong place at the right time, to take for example the event or happenings of Hurricane Katrina in August 2005.
People that were caught up in Hurricane Katrina emailed pictures and videos taken using their mobile phones to big names in the mainstream media like CNN and the New York Times, even to dedicated citizen news sites taking into consideration that journalism is usually not their main occupation and only a few get signed check for their efforts. Citizen journalism can also be said according to research as more of sharing news horizontal and conversational which is always unfinished. Control of information is no longer business as usual meaning, it is not been controlled from the top, now lots of readers are becoming citizens, reporters, and journalists. Anytime citizen journalism is been discussed champions such as Dan Gillmor and Jay Rosen, acclaim it as the most democratic form of journalism, because when we look at it from a global vantage point anyone with access to the internet can influence agenda of choice in the news. Citizen Journalism from a Historical Point Dating back twentieth-century, citizen journalism has been in existence. Lots of tales have been told by communication researchers about the origin of citizen journalism based on how well they understand it. Kern and Nam 2008 p13 reported that the first so-called public journalists acted as advocates for common citizens. They arranged public meetings and put specific issues of the local community on the agenda.
Citizens present at meetings contribute to the news process by airing their views and raising their voice at public meetings. This creates an avenue for reporters to learn from the community at the same time to facilitate local content or issues to the center of news coverage. According to research more and more intellectuals and social activists have ventured into the field of media activism there by developing citizen journalism ideology. Citizen journalism growth can be connected with the advent of the World Wide Web Internet. Ever since the Internet and its ancillary technologies surfaced new variety of functions and features are been developed and applied making the Internet easy and accessible for consumers and audiences to communicate with other audiences. The Internet as a media platform has empowered citizen journalism to report real-life happenings in different locations regions and situations. A very good example is the 2004 Indonesian Boxing Day, Tsunami which was documented digitally thanks to die-hard citizen journalists on the ground who took pictures, videos, text and voice messages which told the authentic story by sending or mailing their reports to mainstream media bodies via phone. Some other events that took place and were uploaded to the internet for audience consumption were the Occupy Wall Street Movement 2012 elections in the United States and Ghana 2013 military takeover of power in Egypt and the Arab Spring. Ordinary citizens were the ones that gathered information pictures form scenes of incidents and videos within a split second it became public via the internet.
Theoretical understandings for the fact that citizen journalism exists it poses a theoretical challenge professionally to the identity of journalists and their field boundaries. The journalism practice theory has always judged journalism within its surrounding of political, social and economic factors. Journalism must regularly debate its interactions with the power creams in a society and within the new digitized global environment, all of those considerations remain According to Folarin 2005 p43, where he says that the main driver of the theory lies in its demand that the existing bureaucracy, as well as commercial and professional dominance in media systems, be fragmented thereby creating liberty to media access for all potential consumers. Principles of Citizen Journalism Since the discovery of the Internet citizens have contributed to journalism activities with little or no professional training or idea. This was made possible by different varieties of networking technologies like chat rooms, mobile computing etc. Lasica 2003 was able to classify media for citizen journalism into the following category - Audience participation. This has to do with attaching the user's comments to news stories personal blogs video footage and photos captured with personal mobile cameras or local news composed by community residents, Independent news and information Web sites.
This is about the reports of Consumer, take for example the Drudge Report Full-fledged participatory news sites. Collaborative and contributory media sites, for example, Facebook. Other kinds of thin media Mailing lists, email newsletters, Personal broadcasting sites such as Net 25. Public journalism from general research and study about public journalism, it can be seen as a phrase with its origin linked to American in as much as the ideology and operations that established it, is not Public journalism is journalism that has explicitly abandoned the ideology of objectivity or neutrality and has become engaged in civic life and especially in the defense of democracy. As with other forms of citizen and activist journalism, public journalism is responding to a specific set of circumstances the corporatization of the media and its perceived subsequent move away from the communities it serves Friedland 2010. Lots of organization and foundation advocated Public journalism for Civic Journalism like the Knight Foundation. Looking at public journalism from another angle it can be said to be designed as an alternative to commercial or corporate forms of journalism but this is not universal Rosenberry and St John III 2010 agrees that public journalism is all about to inform and improve existing journalistic patterns and openings than to override them. Taking into consideration the interest of the Public in public journalism and to investigate journalism in the interest of the public a non-organizational body was instituted in 2008 and called ProPublica. It is not constituted as a citizen journalist organization well staffed with experienced professional investigative journalists if at that its idea has much in common with citizen journalism showing a clear intention on improving and supporting the civic public sphere. The word Sphere denotes an area of activity or a section of society and Public means concerning the people as a whole. With this as an insight, we can say the public sphere be it physical or imaginary ideas is the space by which the public interacts with the larger society and in which an agreement is reached as to the nature of that society. The space in question is not just that of parliament and congress in which problems are been debated but also of media and other areas of public involvement. Looking at the nature of human social life we can say it rotates around the public sphere because it creates an environment where people gather to identify and discuss freely societal issues thereby influencing actions politically or otherwise. The public sphere is often linked with Jürgen Habermas a member of the Frankfurt Schools even when he is not the first to use the phrase. In one of his books, he talked about the way in which media works as an enabler of the public sphere and it been an important idea for media and journalism theorists. The public sphere mediates between the private sphere and the Sphere of Public Authority Habermas 1991. The private sphere includes civil society while the Sphere of Public Authority bargains with the State and the ruling class. The people see public sphere as an institutional regulator against state authority.
Through acts of association and reasoning opinions are produced alongside a position which agrees or disagrees. When it comes to guiding state affairs public sphere is the public opinion needed Rutherford 2000 p18. Theoretical Understandings According to Ferree et al 2002 the theories of the Public sphere focuses on space conceptualization where people get involved in public deliberations and make a decision. Conceptualization in this case of the public sphere is about a logical equal deliberative space focusing on matters of public interest and its goal is to come to an agreement. Public sphere is not just a space positioned for rational reasoning about issues relating to public interest alone but also a space where information is given as an item of consumption to private individuals Critics, however, have pointed out issues relating to conceptualization of rational public sphere saying that within a unified public sphere it is believed that socially equal citizens would make use of logical deliberation to reach an agreement excluding disenfranchised groups and their interest Fraser 1992 Garnham 1992 Papacharissi 2002. The argument brought forward by critics is that subordinated bodies will create their own public spheres alongside the bourgeois public sphere thereby giving room for disenfranchised bodies or groups through alternative public sphere to utilize such spaces in driving their interest and also engage in political action subsequently as a result of their deliberations. That is to say non-elite groups can institute a multiplicity of mediated public spheres where they do not have to listen to rational civil deliberation concerning pre-established matters of public interest Asen Brouwer 2001 Fraser 1992 Papacharissi 2002 Jones Vanderhaeghen Viney 2008. In order to structure the public sphere conceptualization to an inclusive and effective space for deliberation variety of public spheres are to be conceptualized for wider range of individuals to reason about issues of concern.

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