Strategic Communication

Citizen Journalism– Our Opinion matters.

“For the nation’s rise and fall every citizen has a responsibility.” –Unknown

Hello my fellow citizens!

Take a moment out of your day to sit back and think about how you impact the world that we live in. Have you ever wondered if you can change the outcome of an event or even insert a valuable opinion about the happenings in America? I have— constantly. It wasn’t until recently when I realized that ordinary people often redefine media and journalism;this new meaning of journalism has made an impact in the way communities view everyday events happening in their own backyards. While decades ago an everyday “Joe Schmo” would walk by a routine arrest or interaction between people, nowadays it is unusual for someone to not have their cell phone in their hands recording or taking pictures. This display of new age “nosiness” has made for an interesting discussion this week.  For the past week we have tackled a major phenomenon that has taken over the online universe and simply gives journalists a run for their money, civil journalism.

In light of the recent events that have occurred around the world, it is no wonder that more people are willing to record videos, take pictures and voice their opinions regarding everyday occurrences. As a result of major events, the interest in mobile phones and blogs has many people looking for outlets to show their journalism skills. As Citizen journalism seems to be the up and coming way of having normal everyday people speak on issues by means of blogs and introducing video recordings of breaking news, we come to find that this kind of reporting peaks our interest more.  Instead of completely going into the terms surrounding citizen journalism, I would like to briefly write about examples of citizen journalism at its greatest display.

ferguson men cell phones

Citizen Journalism in Ferguson, MO.

Citizen Journalism by definition is the act of using the online universe to post and report, in particular blogs and wikis, to publish and promote independent news-related content.  On many occasions while networking with friends on Facebook and Instagram, I often come across stories with videos showing breaking news of stories across the world. One in particular video caught my eyes as I scrolled through an acquaintance personal page. The video was a clear indication of a shooting in process; unbeknownst to me this would be the second shooting of an unarmed African American man, Kajieme Powell. I mean we did just dive head first into the shooting of Michael Brown weeks ago in Ferguson, Missouri.

While the attention remained steadily focused on the horrific crime scene photos (thanks to Citizen Journalism) of Michael Brown, I became more fixated on the shooting caught on camera by a bystander. I just couldn’t wrap my head around seeing the video and feeling as if I was actually there!

Wow, the power of citizen journalism….

As moments passed I thought about the importance of social media and mobile devices, it had the power to show the world through other my fellow counterparts eyes. That’s when I realized that Citizen Journalism is the epitome of what I witness while avidly scrolling through the timeline of a childhood acquaintances; a great example of citizens taking news reporting into their own hands. I mean think about it, in the era we live in now, more and more people are becoming more infatuated with catching every moment on camera and speaking up about injustices that happen all over the world.

As days and weeks passed, the shooting of both African American men by police officers became worldwide news; it started a media fire and made all communities spring into action. The sharing of videos made a community issue into a worldwide problem, and this is ultimately because citizen journalism became the forefront of these tragedies. Instead of being able to turn a blind eye to the incidents that occurred, there was now footage and pictures that showed the injustice that were shown in these videos. Between video footage and pictures of the aftermath of the Michael Brown shooting and the actual shooting of Kajieme Powell, Americans saw the power that citizen journalism held.

I can only imagine how citizen journalism will change the outcome of these similar cases; blogs became the information gateway to the happenings before and after the incidents. Writing stories about celebrity gossip became went to the back burner. As bloggers rushed to find ways to bring more attention to the injustice happening before our eyes, almost simultaneously everyday people became the camera men for these devastating new stories.

In a sense these blogs became a comforting occurrence during the uprising in a community, the need to speak on the issues in all communities became the talk in blogosphere. This type of relief often comes from those expressing their thought, feelings and beliefs; it gives many people a sense of accomplishment. In a Ted talk assigned for this week’s discussion, Mena Trott describes the euphoric feelings of sharing thoughts and feelings through blogs:

“That this woman is in England, and she lives — she lived a life where she was talking about what she was doing. But the big thing that really influenced us was, her sister wrote to me, and she said, you know, and she wrote on this blog, that — writing her blog during the last couple of months of her life was probably the best thing that had happened to her, and being able to talk to people, being able to share what was going on, and being able to write and receive comments. And that was amazing — to be able to know that we had empowered that, and that blogging was something that she felt comfortable doing, and that the idea that blogging doesn’t have to be scary, that we don’t always have to be attack of the blogs, that we can be people who are open, and wanting to help and talk to people. That was an amazing thing. “

To be empowered is to know that in some way you have brought new meaning to a subject in which we haven’t put much energy into understanding. To me this is the core values when I think of the many people who use their time to speak on an issue that is plaguing their communities and those surrounding it. This is the type of citizen journalism that really matters.

All in all, journalist should just embrace citizen journalism because it’s not going anywhere. Just like emerging media; you either get with it or get left behind.

If you are unfamiliar with Kajieme Powell or Michael Brown, take a moment to read the article and watch the video of Kajieme’s fatal shooting.

Share your thoughts!


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