On citizen journalism

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:

* Ellen Tordesillas
* Manuel L. Quezon III
* Jove Francisco
* Ricky Carandang
* Max Limpag
* John Nery

14 thoughts on “On citizen journalism

  1. I think citizen journalism is wonderful and gives everyone the opportunity to express their ideas. However, I believe traditional journalism offers that bit of credibility that may not necessarily come along with the other – at least not yet. There is a need for both, not one or the other. One of the things that makes this country so great is our freedom of choice (hopefully we’ll actually get that back after the election). In any case, as a news junkie and blogger, I went and searched for sites to see if any actually offered both and I found DailyMe.com. It offers both traditional news from a ton of newspapers that you choose to get your news from, but also allows you to incorporate blogs and RSS feeds too.

  2. The job of a citizen is to keep his mouth open, but not necessarily to become a citizen journalist. To be a “journalist” may involve some kind of formal training which an ordinary citizen blogger is not required to undergo. Bloggers in general are not bound by rules of journalism, and are restricted only by the law on libel and other laws that pertain to crimes against public order.

    the bystander’s last blog post..THE HOLY WEEK OF HYPOCRITES

  3. With the Internet and social networking becoming part of our lives, I think ordinary citizens should learn the basic responsibilities of journalism so that we know when a news that we get to read is fair or not and how can we best contribute to an ongoing issue that involves multiple stakeholders (including the media).

    Janette Toral’s last blog post..PMI Thinking Tool

  4. this blog is for the readers, for citizen journalists, for journalism, for the country because the can pour their sentiments about high electricity bills and other related topics…

    Bukidnon Rep. Teofisto “TG” Guingona III has formally launched his power sector reform blog. Entitled NAKUPO (http://www.nakupo-nakupo.blogspot.com/), the blog seeks to be the internet site for Rep. Guingona’s advocacy to bring down electricity rates. His major advocacy includes the Privatization of the National Power Corporation (NAPOCOR) and the full implementation of the EPIRA law.

  5. I think what we see in the local blogosphere is more citizen commentary than journalism per se. For the most part, news still breaks on the traditional media and through professional news sites. Most of the citizen run political sites tend to provide analysis and commentary more than actual news.
    Having said that though, I beleive that citizen journalism should be encouraged. No one should have a monopoly on news and information and citizen journalism is an encouraging sign that more people out there are becoming engaged in national issues, and that’s a good thing.
    Its true that there is no formal training for many of them but just like in traditional media, I generally trust the public to determine who is credible and who is not.

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