|Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, taken by Tony Webster|
|One of the downsides of citizen journalism.|
Source: Pew Research Center
However, it isn't all positive. With no ethical, legal or professional training to rely upon -- and no media credential to flash -- citizen journalists are often put in harms way when attempting to cover riots or protests. In 2012, 47 citizen journalists were killed trying to report. More recently, during the riots in Ferguson, Missouri, a man named Antonio French was arrested for unlawful assembly while documenting the protests. His work was used by a wide variety of outlets but, since he isn't employed by any news company, he lacks the protection and credibility that professional journalists receive. Protecting, educating and not exploiting eager citizen journalists is vital for this level of participation to be more beneficial than harmful. Overall, the public can never be a complete substitute for professional journalists, but the public can provide important, supplemental contributions to impactful reports.