What is "Citizen Journalism"?

Citizen journalism, also known as "participatory journalism," is the act of citizens "playing an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing and disseminating news and information".(Bowman, S. and Willis, C.)

How "Citizen Journalism" Affects News

  • In August, 2006 CNN launched CNN EXCHANGE, a page that encourages visitors to submit their stories, pictures and videos in order to enrich the professional 24/7 news coverage provided by CNN. Recent conflicts in the Middle East brought about a massive submission of stories, pictures and videos on blogs, onlne picture and video repositories around the web. In view of this CNN decided to open it's doors to such submissions to enrich it's own news coverage and keep its audience on their pages. This move by CNN is the first venture into "citizen journalism" by a major news organization. (OhMyNews)
  • A citizen journalist on Slashdot exposed a "testimonial" on a Microsoft site of an unnamed freelance writer who switched from an Apple Mac to Windows XP as a blatant copywritten ad. The expose' forced Microsoft to withdraw the page.This is a good example of how sharp-eyed bloggers can team with professional journalists to help filter "news" and keep it clean. (Hypergene MediaBlog)
  • Citizen journalist coverage of the Middle East Crisis involving Israel and Lebanon in July of 2006 received attention from CNN when they aired "Citizen Journalists Cover the Middle East Conflict" which reported about video that was appearing on YouTube. The conflict was being covered in ways that prior to Web 2.0 tools had not been available. (Viewers were warned that the material had not been verified.)
  • Citizen journalists were the first to take photos with cameraphones and videophones after the London bombings in July 2005. A collective wikipedia page detailed the aftermath as did group blogs such as this hour-by-hour rundown. Unfortunately some viewed this as paparazzi rather than considerate journalism due to the gruesome details being relayed. (USC Annenberg, Online Journalism Review, Mark Glaser)
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Ethics in "Citizen Journalism"

  • Accuracy - Check your facts before you publish.
  • Differentiate between facts and opinions.
  • Do not plagiarise and do link to all references.
  • Don't make digital modifications that change the meaning or context of pictures or video footage.
  • Don't submit "posed" pictures as true news.
  • Don't put yourself in danger in order to get that "great" story or picture.
  • Be honest.
  • Make personal contact with the person(s) you are writing about and link to their online material (eg blog) if they have any.
  • Transparency - Be sure to disclose any personal relationship you may have to the story you publish.

Reference: What are the Ethics of Online Journalism?

Great Resources

Your Guide to Citizen Journalism by Mark Glaser (includes great links to further online resources)

Recent News Items referring to 'citizen journalism'

citizen journalism - Google News

A Few Examples of "Citizen Journalism"

Here is what Jerusalem looked like on the recent Succot holiday. Views from southern Jerusalem towards the Old City, an excursion to ancient tombs in the Kidron Valley and some street actors hopping around in Independence Bell Park.

Three 9th graders at Neveh Channah HS in Gush Etzion, Israel produced a video documenting what happened to some members of Moshav Bar Yochai in Northern Israel during the Second Lebanon War in the summer of 2006.