Citizen journalism adds more coverage but made-up stories, photos present issue

Citizen journalism has revolutionized the industry. It’s rare now that a spontaneous event occurs in public that doesn’t go documented. In the past, these spur-of-the moment events would’ve had to rely on sources talking to journalists who show up on the scene minutes or even hours later. Now with everyone possessing a cellphone with a camera for photographs and video in their pocket at all times, non-journalists can help convey news. This is the pro of audiences and the public becoming more active in media protection. Without this, readers wouldn’t be as informed or have the full documentation of the day’s news. This isn’t a knock on professional journalists, it’s just that they can’t predict where to be nor be everywhere at once. A great example of citizen journalism put to good use is CNN’s subsection called iReport, which features citizen journalism on its website. 

The public becoming more active in media production isn’t all positive, though. Citizen journalists don’t have the experience or the journalism knowledge that professionals do. That isn’t to say all professional journalists are ethical, but news organizations have a reputation on the line. There is nothing holding a citizen journalist back from fabricating a video or a story to gain notoriety. We saw this firsthand with fake photos during the Boston Bombings showing sensationalism. Multiple photos that day went viral that were either fake or were captioned to make them sound better than they were. If citizen journalists avoid this, though, they can add valuable to content to media production.

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