In today’s world, more and more people are getting involved in the world of journalism. In some cases, these people are not professional journalists, but rather everyday citizens who are documenting events as they happen and sharing them with the world. This type of information spread, which involves the general public in the process of gathering and disseminating the news, is often referred to as “citizen journalism.” This type of journalism has a long and storied history, and is often credited with helping to bring social and political change to the world. Helping to bring social and political change to the world? Well, that’s one way to look at it. Another is that it’s a strong tool for propaganda.
That’s been the two sides of the debate in recent times. Some fault citizen journalists of being plagued with “first to break the news syndrome”. This syndrome, according to critics of citizen journalism, feeds fake news. But is that true? Well this article hopes to remind us of the benefits of citizen journalism. Even though there are some cons, do they outweigh its pros?
Citizen Journalism Is Not Fake News
In the past few years, fake news has become a major political issue. Much of this fake news has been spread via social media. But fake news isn’t just a modern problem — it has been around as long as the press has. It is sad that fake news and citizen journalism are often used interchangeably, but there are some important differences that set them apart. The most important difference is fake news is designed to look like real news, while citizen journalism is simply real news. Fake news mongers are paid to spread misinformation online or feel dedicated to the agenda to do so for one reason or the other. Read further to learn what citizen journalism is rather doing, against what its critics are amplifying.
Watchdog Of All And Sundry
Citizen journalists have been able to serve as watchdog of both the government and mainstream media. In the recent #Endsars protest which happened in Lagos, one of the factors that made it difficult to cover up the event is the live report done by a citizen journalist. Social media is a viable tool employed by citizen journalists to disseminate their report. In the case of #Endsars, instagram live was used. Even despite this, concerned stakeholders claimed it was a doctored report. It makes one wonder, do they doctor live instragram recording too? It is convenient to think that haters of citizen journalists would do anything, say anything, to tarnish its reputation.
Balance stories by mainstream media
Gone are those days that mainstream media can feed audiences with just what they want. Not to consider now that many mainstream media products also come into play with their own agenda. The question is then – whose agenda is it? Things have really changed, citizen journalists identify and correct misunderstanding, or misreporting. It is true that mainstream media are strictly regulated but luckily, citizen journalism is not. Therefore, it presents its audience with a wide range of news stories, each to help properly understand a news event. Don’t miss our previous post on Fear of failure? This is how to stay courageous!
Real Time News Report with Citizen Journalism
Equipped with even the least of smart phones, a citizen journalist is capable of reporting and disseminating news events in real time. Not to imagine those with a sophisticated battery of production and dissemination tools. As a matter of fact, mainstream media sometimes depend on video/photo reports from citizen journalists to augment their news story. Check this report by a concerned citizen Sexual Abuse in Nigeria: The Uwaila Vera Omozuwa story.
Tech like misinformation mapping and computational linguistics may help.
We definitely acknowledge that there is a real danger of fake news on the internet, where hoaxes can be repeated as legitimate news. Even news organisations are sometimes fooled. Sometimes, the truth is lost in the noise. We however, argue for tech projects that will build a system that can identify fake news by using techniques like misinformation mapping and computational linguistics. We really hope to hear from you, what do you think? Do you think citizen journalism is an estate of fake news or otherwise?
An opportunity for entrepreneurs
But entrepreneurs, look at this development. If tech has decentralised traditional gatekeepers of information dissemination, then you too can enhance your game and get into the space. As professionals gathering real news, creating your own ethics and regulations. The question would be “WHY“? Maybe you too can build an information project to create a better world where diverse information is accessible to all.
Meanwhile, we have developed a unique app called the Joadre Tribe. The tribe app brings together on one platform;
- business education that is relevant to our global economy,
- data information to guide you and
- a community of both international partners/investors and Nigerian entrepreneurs.
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Thank you for reading to the end.