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Citizen journalism picks up where the mainstream leaves off in race riots

Source: Twitter @EliKMBC
Mainstream media sources used to be the main outlets where people could consume news and spread the word about issues, but in the past decade, the tables have started to turn. Now, issues that are important to members of the public have started to influence the mainstream news sources due to the accessibility of social media websites, such as Facebook and Twitter. Notable instances where public outcry has influenced mainstream media coverage include racial injustice riots, such as those in Ferguson and Baltimore. Riots such as these often stem from other events that get initial coverage from witnesses on social media outlets rather than professional journalists, such as the deaths of Michael Brown and Freddie Gray caused by police officers. In the heated riots that followed these events, citizen journalists were key to facilitating the transmission of information, especially when unexpected circumstances, such as unlawful arrests, prohibitted mainstream journalists from doing their jobs.

While citizen journalism is harder to fact check than reports from more mainstream sources due to the ease of content fabrication online, the process of ordinary citizens bringing to light issues in their community enables the spread information that otherwise may not have been known. The efforts of these citizens also foster connection and conversation between news stations and the people living in the communities that they serve. As such, I feel that the use of social media in spreading news is a very important factor in the way our society obtains information about current events.

Public perception on valuable uses of citizen journalism.

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