If you’ve been under the impression that traditional media outlets are at war with a rising population of citizen journalists; I really can’t blame you. There’s always been a tussle between how the 5 o’clock news is perceived in contrast to the conventional citizen journalist. The perception that the news reporter is a personified pool of knowledge and the average blogger sits at home in their underpants writing about the “Top 10 things that annoy me” (or something just as mundane along those lines) is a common misconception. But I am here to tell you that these views are quickly being thrown out the window, with the global community quickly realising that maybe (just maybe), the ‘professionals’ and ‘citizens’ could unite forces and make the news world a better place.
The current trend we’re seeing is an emergence of “Pro-Am” journalism. This concept works on the premise that ‘professionals’ and ‘citizens’ can combine their strengths in a bid to create a more holistic sphere of media coverage. This technique eliminates the issues that each respective media outlet faces individually – for example, traditional (industrial) media outlets are limited by human power and physical space, only enabling them to cover large-scale stories. Whether it comes down to the amount of words allocated to a page or a limited number of employees, traditional media cannot compete with the unlimited space and extent of information that the Internet can facilitate via citizen journalism.
Axel Bruns puts it best, “The very terminology we use to describe both sides creates the impression that professionals are not also citizens, and that citizen journalists are incapable of having professional skills and knowledge, in reality, of course, the lines between them are much less clear” (Bruns, A. 2010)
Bruns suggests that there has been a paradigm shift between news organisations and audiences, with those previously being fed the news, now actively participating in its distribution.
Social media plays a huge role in the dissemination of news stories, specifically twitter, a platform that allows the quick and simple distribution of information to a mass audience.
In fact, platforms like this are often used in the analogy, “a bridge made of pebbles”, with each pebble representing an individual news source (in this case a tweet). It would be foolish to believe one tweet without sourcing other information to gain a broader understanding of a story. Therefore, the value lies not in that tweet alone, rather the ‘bridge’ of information that is formed upon reaching a conclusion from multiple factual sources.
For many, twitter has become their ‘go-to’ news source in times of celebrity mishaps, global issues and current events, suggesting that people enjoy being part of the discussion and having their say when it comes to opinion driven news stories. Hashtags have revolutionised the way news is broadcast on twitter, and makes finding information on a specific topic easy and fast. Not only does it make sourcing information easy but also connects people in a global conversation, and are most interestingly facilitated by people that may have never actually met face-to-face.
So go forth! Tweet to your heart’s content because most likely, there’s someone out there just waiting to talk to you…just make sure you’ve sourced it from the right places 😉
Bruns, A. (2010) News Produsage in a Pro-Am Mediasphere : Why Citizen Journalism Matters. News Online : Transformations and Continuities. Palgrave Macmillan, London.