As a journalist, when I first heard about citizen journalism I became fearful – fearful about the fact that journalism would become an everyday trade. Will I be competing with the security guard down the street from my office? What about the street vendor selling newspapers for the publication I work for? I then shifted the scenario to a doctor’s profession. Imagine what the world would be like if there were citizen doctors? All these questions haunted me until I read an article by Elvira Van Noort ‘Will citizen journalism shake up SA media?’
We live in a day and age where news is easily accessible – all it takes is one click and an image or headline can possibly be made available to thousands of people.
Living in a country like South Africa, not many people were and some still aren’t afforded the opportunity to study and become qualified professionals. The uprising of citizen journalism is changing that. In ‘Will citizen journalism shake up SA media?’ I read about a security guard who reports about news daily and that he had a dream of becoming a successful reporter. This inspired me and I realized that the career I am passionate about is a platform for those who never had the opportunity to pursue their dreams.
All I want is for the truth to be published to the people – even if it is by the people.
Not only is it advantageous for a democracy like South Africa as it voices the opinions of those who were once voiceless, but it is also an easy means to address problems our society us facing. This form of journalism is helpful for professionals as it allows for relationships to be established between them and the average citizen. This is critical for a journalist.
There are many other advantages to this as well. Citizen journalists can be of massive help when it comes to reporting in real-time –as it makes citizens feel part of whatever is happening.
Citizen journalism is growing at a rapid pace and it cannot be stopped. This is a good thing. According to Dan Gillmore’s Chapter ‘Journalism’s Evolving Ecosystem‘ in his online book MediaActive South African media should nurture and protect them. “When I wrote We the Media in 2004, I was confident that citizen journalism would become an essential part of the ecosystem. Nothing I’ve seen leads me to believe otherwise. But the genre has a long way to go.”
Citizen journalism is on the rise and is here to stay. Journalists need to come to terms with this fact and use it to further drive them to do more than just the average citizen.