With print media slowly becoming the “flip-phone,” version of journalism, surely the transition to digital media would cause a new wave of journalists to also emerge. With iPhones, smartphones and laptops readily available–whether it be in our backpacks, desktops or in the palm of our hand–the ability to report the news has shifted from the newsroom to our own streets and neighbourhoods. Citizen journalism allows the general public to become the eyes and ears for the whole population. Anyone can become a source, and more importantly, a source that is trusted by the public; these sources are our neighbours, our coworkers, our old classmates. These sources fight to create a well informed public void of manipulation or agenda–unlike certain mainstream broadcasters who can have underlying messages (FOX News, I’m looking at you).
The range of citizen journalism can be as small as reporting a collision or high-traffic area to a radio station, or as powerful as the social media activity present in Arab Springs or the Occupy Wall Street movement. Regardless of the content, it is the will of the general public that decides what becomes newsworthy and what deserves to be a headline. We have democratized the way we share and receive our news–becoming digital activists with greater exposure than ever before.
An example of this would be last year, when a video of an officer named Ben Fields was uploaded, showing him flip a female student’s desk, tossing and dragging her across the classroom floor in a disturbingly aggressive manner. This video, which was recorded by sever students in Spring Valley High School in South Carolina, was quick to go viral and lead to the officer’s termination. Fields’ exposure of was only possible due to the students in the class who recorded the incident, which allowed for proper analysis and action. Even today, many instances of police brutality are being recorded, and those doing the recording are being harassed and arrested.
Citizen journalism is essential to the way we get our news today. With so many mainstream media outlets ignoring the voices of the people, it is the people that are now dictating the state of the world–and what should be done about it.
Written by Pia Araneta