When the unexpected happens a professional journalist or reporter is not always present. Some of the biggest news stories happen without warning which ultimately calls for the ordinary citizen to capture the moment. By preserving the event, ordinary citizens are able to publically display what they have observed into words or photographs. With technologies continuing to advance and become more available to the public, citizen journalism is able to reach new levels. Sometimes, these acts are so timely and relevant that they become the best bet for mainstream media to completely cover the story. In a recent example, a citizen journalist took a photo with his iPhone of the US Airways flight that made an emergency landing on the Hudson River. His photograph was used on the front page of multiple newspapers, even though other professional photographers’ pictures were available. This citizen journalist was able to receive such a massive response to his photograph also due to the fact that he immediately posted it on Twitter. Even before the picture was printed in newspapers the following morning, many citizens had seen it due to the connectedness of online communities. The combinations of such technologies are continuing to clear new paths that allow citizen journalists to get their story to the public.
Citizen journalism is not always so highly regarded or praised. Because of the reliance of unedited or “raw” news, people are able to say what they want in a fairly public atmosphere. There is a difference between being liberal, conservative or just plain incorrect. In response to a citizen journalist who posted a false story that the CEO of Apple, Steve Jobs, had been rushed to the hospital which had real negative effect on Apple’s stock, Jeff Jarvis wrote “Citizen journalism ruins the world (again)” . He is able to see the bigger picture look at the event from a broader perspective. In general citizen journalists lack credibility. Credibility happens to be exactly what professional reporters rely on when they make a mistake. As citizen and professional journalism continue to merge and become more hybrid, I feel that journalism as a whole will become stronger and give the people more reliable information faster.
While searching around on the internet, I also found this application for a “Best of Citizen Photojournalism Photo Contest”. The deadline is March 31st for anyone interested. I also searched around on WeSay (the sponsoring website) and found that it was a great website for citizen photography in general. Enjoy!