Who do you trust more to provide you with current news and events? In the book Citizen Journalism, we read that based on a survey conducted by Edelman PR, people trusted their friends and peers. However, this book is a few years old and more recent surveys done by Edelman PR (conducting annual surveys for the past ten years) is showing that percentage of trusting peers, or “people like me” dropped from 47 to 27.
With so many new technologies available on the market today, it’s much easier to get the tools that aid in becoming a citizen journalist. This can include using your cell phone or a pocket camcorder (I use the Kodak Zi8) to take video footage of wars or natural disasters and upload those videos to different news stations. Citizen, a.k.a. amateur, journalists also contribute to society through different online forums, blogs, and community posts.
Over the past several years, citizen journalism became the “hero” in a sea of wrongful news. When popular news outlets were reporting news in such a way that portrayed a certain group of people in a bad light, when in fact it was just the opposite, most people turned to the Internet for the citizen’s viewpoint. Many people began searching YouTube for amateur video footage for the real stories.
Citizens on the scene in Japan during the 2011 tsunami recorded video footage of the actual wave. By the time most reporters got there, it was just water. Without the citizen video footage, no one would have seen what really happened.
|Cropped photo on the left: Real photo on the right|
The photo sparked outrage with the Chinese people and a young student named Jin Rao took to the Internet. He created a website called Anti-CNN.com. From that point forward, he challenged the media’s credibility, but mainly when the topic was focused on
So, even though there is an upside to citizen journalism, there’s also a downside. CNN was under fire again about a year ago when a citizen posted to CNN iReport that Steve Jobs, Apple Co-Founder/Chairman, had a heart attack. When that one false story got spread around, people panicked on Wall Street and stock began dropping. CNN took scrutiny for it and tried to explain that iReport is citizen-based and cannot be 100% filtered for false stories.
This boils down to ethics. The men and women that study journalism know there is a strict code of ethics to follow, while many citizen journalists have no knowledge of that code. However, I advise any amateur wanting to get involved in online sites like iReport to study up a bit on what’s right and wrong to post.
So who can we trust to deliver our news? After thinking about it, I’d say about half and half. The difference between a professional journalist and an amateur one is the professional puts their name out on the line for the public, and in doing so, also takes the heat when something is reporting incorrectly. The amateur can post as an anonymous person and never feel the backlash of a wrongful post. Professionals do train to perform their jobs in a better manner.