Citizen Journalism: Expanding the Boundaries of Traditional Journalism by Democratization of Media
The rapid advancement in communication technologies has not only changed the lives of the people around the entire globe but has also revolutionized the ways of dissemination of information. The exponential growth of internet and its services has made it feasible for faster distribution of information via various mediums. In earlier times, the direction of flow of information was strictly unidirectional; from media persons to passive audience. Such passive audience was only at the receiving end of the media system and the responsibility of distribution of news was fulfilled solely by trained and skilled media personnel. The existence of social networking sites, media- streaming websites, personal blogs and discussion forums has led to the rise of a new form of journalism, called as Participatory Journalism or Citizen Journalism. The notion of citizen journalism is based upon the participation of public individuals in the process of gathering, reporting, evaluating and distributing news and information through various means of their capacity. The emergence of internet and the facilities provided by it has made it more accessible for the people to collect as well distribute user generated content. Citizen journalism is appreciably different from community or civic journalism as it functions outside of the mainstream media institutions. It not only facilitates general public without any professional training to generate and distribute information but also offers them the ability to transmit it globally. Through citizen journalism, it is viable for local news to be broadcasted on a global platform.
A root and integrated element of citizen journalism is modern technology. The technological advancements in communication devices in last few years have assisted the escalation in the rise of citizen journalism. With the use of modern Smartphone, a user can not only produce information but can also distribute it worldwide without any hassle. Hence, for the obvious reasons, citizen journalism is mostly found online through blogs, podcasts, video-streaming sites etc. and in form of text, pictures, audio and video. The accessibility of internet makes it convenient for the general public to report local breaking news more swiftly then conventional media. At some instances, information broadcasted by the conventional media outlets can be person- opinioned and filtered. But since the information through citizen journalism tends to be generated first- hand by the members of general public, it is generally free from conventional media bias.
Citizen journalism can be considered to still be in its beginning stages. Even though citizen journalism empowers the general masses, there are still numerous aspects associated with it that need to be evaluated, reformed or redefined. Conventional news- reporting institutions may raise a point regarding the lack of exactness and ethical obligations associated with this new form of journalism. Owing to the fact that such user- generated content does not award any financial benefits in most of the situations, the lack of commitment, quality and content is inevitable. But the fact that citizen journalism facilitates democratization of media cannot be simply overlooked. With realization of that, convention media has opened the gateways for citizen journalism to co-exist with mainstream media. Now-a-days, both electronic and print media is effectively engaging general public in order to broaden its precincts.
Though citizen journalism has initiated to spread its roots, there are both advantageous as well as disadvantageous aspects coupled with it. It is vital to completely understand such distinct fragments in order to utilize citizen journalism to its maximum capacity while minimizing its detrimental segments.
Citizen Journalism has attained a definitive shape in last few decades owing to the vast use of internet and modern technologies. In spite of related limitations and drawbacks, citizen journalism proves to be valuable to the society as well as to traditional media. The relationship of citizen journalism and traditional media is intriguing and the collaboration between both has already been proven to be successful. It would not be wrong to conclude that future of journalism is one where both citizen journalism and traditional journalism can work together and can benefit from each other.
Ms. Shikha Kukreja
Dept. of Communication Studies