2011: the year of the citizen journalist?

February 6, 2012 § Leave a comment

If we look at some of the news events this year, there has been quite a few news stories reported my user-generated reportage, all the images of the riots came from social media uploads, but more and more the images and video recording from citizens are helping to make news themselves, take for example when the uk riots happened a lot of the rioters in the images were identified by the viewers seeing the images on tv and in papers and internet, so maybe the images produced by citizens aren’t really photojournalist quality but can be used in fighting crime and providing evidence.

2011: the year of the citizen journalist?

Posted : Sat 31 December 2011 – 01:42am

Last Updated : Fri 27 January 2012 – 03:43pm

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2011 has been an especially eventful year for news. We have seen the deaths of Osama bin Laden, Muammar Gaddafi and Kim Jong-il, earthquakes in Japan and New Zealand, the Arab Spring, and riots in the UK as well as Occupy movements establishing themselves all over the world.

What has really stuck out this year has been the prominence and growth of citizen journalism. Social media and its use by citizens to report their own news has, many times this year, provided valuable coverage where the mainstream media has failed.

The use of social media during the Arab Spring, which began in late 2010, has been well documented, and citizen journalism is considered by some to have come into its own during the ongoing unrest in the Middle East and North Africa. During the uprising in Egypt, Al-Jazeera’s citizen media service, Sharek, received 1,000 camera-phone video uploads. Riyaad Minty, head of the service said that

“Now our main stories are driven by images captured by citizens on the street, it’s no longer just a supporting image. In most cases citizens capture the breaking news moments first.”

Throughout the Arab Spring citizens have provided coverage where journalists simply cannot. Only last week videos were still emerging from Egypt of the widespread brutality of the Egyptian army against protestors whilst the Syrian regime in being closely watched by the UN and Arab League monitors as videos and pictures captured on camera phones are released every day showing widespread violence.

The impact of citizen journalism was also seen here in the UK with the summer riots. The unrest was first reported on micro-blogging site Twitter with pictures circulating of a police car on fire outside Tottenham police station. Thousands were following the progress of the #TottenhamRiots before any journalists had arrived at the scene. As the unrest spread throughout London and other parts of the UK it was citizen journalists providing the information using platforms like Blottr to upload photos and videos and share the news they could see before them. The fast-paced nature, and unpredictability of the disturbances meant the eyewitnesses on the scene, using smartphones, were the news breakers.

Social media and people reporting from the streets also played a significant role during the multiple bombings in Mumbai in mid-July. 23 people were killed and 131 injured as a result of three blasts in the city at rush hour. Mumbai residents out-reported conventional news suppliers by using Twitter and Facebook as phone lines were down. As with other events throughout the year shocking pictures provided by citizen journalists were shared online, showing scenes as they unfolded. As well as using social media for reporting a GoogleDoc was created called MumbaiHelp which people contributed to suggesting places where help could be found. People even volunteered their homes for those affected. Citizen journalism and the use of social media following the bombs in Mumbai has been seen as an example of the good that can be achieved through its use.

Many question the true power that user generated content has on news events, but it was user generated content that made news recently in the UK with the uploading of the video ‘My Tram Experience’ to YouTube on November 28th. The video shows a lady travelling on a tram from Croydon to Wimbledon using racist and abusive language towards other passengers. The video received over 11 million views of YouTube and provoked debate on social media sites. The British Transport Police subsequently carried out an investigation into the incident, which resulted in the identification and arrest of the racist commuter.

Citizen journalism has had a dramatic impact on the news of 2011, whether it results in setting the news agenda or provides an insight into events which the mainstream media cannot. Can we ignore citizen journalism any more?

In 2012, there are many events around the world that people like you can report on using the power of your phone. You have the power to report in your hand. To get involved, email editor@blottr.com

Some of the best Citizen Journalism stories on Blottr in 2011

Woman videos racist rant by commuter on tram in south London. The video went viral across Facebook and Twitter and the woman filmed was eventually arrested.

Mumbai faces more terrorism as multiple blasts rock the city. Residents used social media to create help points whilst citizens recorded post blast images to tell the world what was happening in this widely unreported incident.

London was badly hit during the riots. These pictures show the damage from the widespread rioting around the capital.

Whilst the mainstream media was reporting from Clapham and Croydon, Ealing was one of the worst hit places. Citizen journalists used Blottr and Twitter to break news about the riots that hit this leafy part of west London

The Arab Spring was one of the most significant events of the year and has changed the Middle East. This video shows the Egyptian army beating a female protestor, taken by a citizen journalist.



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