Faith in Humanity Restored
I will be the first to admit that watching the 6 o’clock news each day is not something that appears on my list of priorities. It’s an astonishment that I have even a glimmer of insight into trending global affairs, however, with internet platforms – specifically social networks – acting as an open forum for individuals to broadcast their every waking moment, it’s no wonder I am able to stay in the loop. Those annoying friends who bombard your twitter feed can now feel a sense of pride; they’re simply a spanner in the works of Citizen Journalism.
Citizen journalism transforms us from being the once dormant audience (consumers) into being active participants, who both view and create content (prosumers). We are constantly collaborating with an entire network of other average citizens to create a news sphere that stretches beyond the means of traditional journalism. “Citizen journalism is discursive and deliberative, and better resembles a conversation than a lecture” (Gillmor, 2003). It isn’t bound by the constraints of authority or obligation, and so information can be published at a more rapid and personal rate, being delivered to our very own newsfeed or mobile phone at any second.
The BBC have taken the idea of Citizen Journalism and embraced it. They are currently undergoing a process of restructuring to enable full utilization of the content and resources that its average viewer has to share. You see, we are no longer merely being spoon-fed the news, but have an entire buffet of different spoons at our access, and if need be, can throw our own spoon in too!
BBC took note on July 7th 2005, when terrorists bombed a London subway, sending the whole nation into a state of hysteria. Prior to the onslaught of photographs, emails and SMS messages being broadcasted across the web, the explosion was deemed as nothing more than a “power surge”. It wasn’t until the story was taken into the hands of innocent bystanders that the full truth was revealed. Richard Sambrook, a BBC employee speculated, “when major events occur, the public can offer us as much new information as we are able to broadcast to them. From now on, news coverage is a partnership.“
However, having the liberty of producing content and unmonitored access to home brewed news has caused the current demographic to become skeptical consumers. Instead of placing the entirety of their trust in the Newspaper, as was done so readily 20 years ago, the people seem to have more trust in those around them. It seems like an odd notion, especially when the giant media conglomerates were once prided in their unquestionable credibility, however this idea of – as lame as it sounds – restoring faith in fellow humanity is almost profound. It seems to me that Citizen Journalism is not only a matter of uploading a picture of a local traffic jam from your smart phone to twitter, but is a far more sincere attempt of regaining the hope and trust found solely in those that surround us… and if it had a cheesy tag line, I believe it would go something like: made by people, for people.
For further reference, please see below:
- Citizen Journalism and the BBC
- Bruns, A 2007, Produsage: Towards a Broader Framework for User-Led Content Creation, Washington, DC.