In your opinion, is citizen journalism a good thing or a bad thing (for the readers, for citizen journalists, for journalism, for the country)? Why?
To be honest, I am quite leery of the citizen journalist tag. I have loads of respect to hardworking journalists – the pay is usually low, and yet they work hard. They subscribe to a code of ethics. Now, how does a citizen journalist enter the picture? In the first place, how do we define citizen journalism? Wikipedia defines it as ‘is the act of citizens “playing an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing and disseminating news and information”.’ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizen_journalism). In short, a citizen journalist acts like a journalist minus (1) technical training, (2) affiliation to any news organization, and (3) adherence to journalism code of ethics. How can we be so sure that a citizen journalist will present factual and correct news?
That being said, the negative aspect of citizen journalism is exposed – like traditional news organizations, citizen journalism can be a source of bad or tainted news. At least for journalists, they have a code of ethics to abide to, and they have editors to check on them. There is a much higher tendency to get false information from a PR person impersonating as a citizen journalist, for example. Then there is the question of objectivity.
However, citizen journalism plays a big part for several reasons:
1. Not every news item sees the light of day, due to limitations in space, time, or editorial considerations (ie, news worthiness). Citizen journalism can fill this void, by reporting what is happening in certain locality.
2. It can serve as a good source of information, specially if a news organization logistically cannot cover the entire country.
3. Fact-checking against traditional news media.
All things considered, I think citizen journalism is a good thing. If citizen journalists adhere to a code of ethics, and if they get proper training, I think citizen journalism will contribute to the exchange of information.
Do you think there is a need for citizen journalists in our country?
Yes, specially since we live in an archipelago. We cannot possibly get the complete information from traditional news sources; citizen journalists can somehow fill this gap.
Do you think there will be more citizen journalists in the future?
In the near future, as in 5 years? No, for several reasons. One, we have a low Internet access penetration rate, and that translates to a small number of people getting exclusive Internet access. It is safe to say that many people access the Internet via rentals, and with a limited time, blogging will be hard (unless you write your thoughts first). Second, most of the bloggers that we have are not interested in writing about political and social issues, and the net increase will probably result in the same situation as we have now – political bloggers as minority in the Philippine blog space.
Questions by Stephanie Ferrer
Additional insights from The Jester-in-Exile
I wish we can get insights from journalists who are also bloggers: