Mounting Citizen Journalism, Raging Mainstream Media
When B.R. Ambedkar, a Dalit writer expressed his indignations on writers like Premchand for writing Dalit stories, we fairly understood his point being that a well lived writer like Premchand could never envisage what a Dalit faced in India and could not express a Dalit’s adversities.
Similarly, when stories of exploitation, war, destitute and inequality are told by the people who faced the calamity, it gives much more insight and reality than what a leading daily print or a studio reporter would inform. Not that we do not need mainstream journalism, but the importance and vitality of citizen journalism should not be overlooked.
What is Citizen journalism?
Today, in the 21st era, social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Blogging, Micro-bogging, Digital Magazines, etc have given a platform to the normal citizens to share their news, experiences, stories, etc without much hassle. This kind of journalism which involves participation of general citizens is called ‘Citizen Journalism’ or ‘Participatory Journalism’.
Immediacy and Adequacy
Mounting Citizen Journalism somehow expands the scope of awareness and profundity. The immediacy and instant news by participatory citizen are of utmost importance. In situations of war, natural calamity or attacks, where immediate media coverage is difficult and risky, citizen journalism and reports help the editors and news gatherers in reporting. Also, in such cases, stories by real victims help media report the situation adequately and clearly.
Sociologist Michael Schudson explains, “When minorities and women and people who have known poverty and misfortune first-hand are authors of news, as well as its readers, the social world represented in the news expands and changes.”
Reality and Regulatory
When it comes to reporting, mainstream media has the gate-keeping authority as to what should be concealed and what should be exposed. At times, media also hypes certain irrelevant news. Somehow, media does have an affinity for biased practices. It might beat report about a tabloid news piece but it might not take into consideration, the need to expose the reality of rural India or the exploited victims of the destitute background. Citizen journalism keeps reality alive; bloggers bring into focus the buried stories of concealed cases, of victims, of needy.
Citizen journalism is important to regulate mainstream media and bring into existence the hidden realities.
Lacks Professionalism, Ethics, Reliability
Richard Sambrook, the director of the BBC Global News Division once said in a conference, few years back, “Information is not journalism. You get a lot of things, when you open up Twitter in the morning, but not journalism. Journalism needs discipline, analysis, explanation and context and therefore it is still a profession.”
According to him, citizen journalism lacks the basic attributes of reporting. Therefore, raises the question of censorship on social networking and regulation of citizen journalism. People write what they find interesting which might not be adequately analyzed as professionals do. Also, when a professional writes, he owns up to its accountability which is quite the opposite in case of the prior. At times, it is difficult to locate the source of the stories or pictures posted. Be it that citizen journalism is on rise but none can outdo the professionalism, balance and adequacy of the mainstream media.
Thus, there exists a tension between mainstream and citizen journalism. Do drop in your views in the comment box.