Citizen journalists in theory are the same as regular journalists except that they are not employed by a media outlet. The exact definition according to dictionary.com is, “the involvement of non-professionals in reporting news, especially in blogs and other websites.”
Online citizen journalism
The use of the internet is highly valuable to citizen journalists due to the low cost of online publication. This allows regular people to participate in the media without the kind of funding that the mass media institutions have. There are entire websites like The Uptake and The Third Report that are composed completely of articles provided by everyday regular people who want to participate in the distribution of news. The Third Report does offer 50 percent of the ad revenue from popular articles. Businesses like World News Vine are looking for bloggers to work as free lancers as can be seen in this ad. Poynter.org, a wedsite dedicated to educating journalists in their craft as well as enforcing ethical guidlines, has a detailed article explaining the depth of citizen journalism from basic reporting to coverage of serious issues. It makes a strong connection between citizen journalists and the web.
The Pros and Cons of Citizen Journalism
The use of the internet has made citizen journalism easy to publish as well as access but the reporting can get lost among the rest of the “information” that is available online. Because anyone can publish an article online, the reliability of these reports comes into question. The old maxim “Don’t believe everything you hear” comes to mind when using the Internet as a source of information.
A quote noting some of the problems of informal citizen journalism is that it “brings along with it all of the difficulties of democratic society…incivility, bullying, bias, prejudice, privatization, power struggles,” says Jessica Clark, a MediaShift contributor. “They’re a challenge to each of us to fight for parity, transparency, access and openness.”
By Ben Jonas