In class, we watched a video about a reporter, Paul Lewis, who was covering human rights stories that he had very little evidence. He needed more proof that the events happened in order to report them. He tweeted that he needed proof and if anyone did they should contact him. His tweet was retweeted and found several witnesses of the events and was able to write his story. He then went on to explain how citizen journalism, or crowd sourcing could be the future of journalism.
Citizen journalism is known as public, guerrilla, or street journalism. This is based on the common citizen playing an active part in collecting, reporting, analysing and disseminating news and information. Citizen journalism can be very biased as citizen journalists are not trained in news reporting or presenting information in the best manner. Through their "goodwill" they might make things worse instead.
Examples of citizen journalism gone wrong are "RIP Morgan Freeman"or "RIP Jackie Chan" and the recent "RIP Rowan Atkinson", famous viral announcements by citizen journalists that were totally wrong. Freeman, Chan and Atkinson are all alive and well.
Citizen journalists are the trendy "in-thing" right now. People believe that journalism should not just be run by news organisations who filter news for them. They want the news for "whatever it is". There is a danger in the fact that through such means, there will not be a dedicated news source who is established and responsible for their information, there will also be possibly legal issues if the reported news is wrong. People and companies get hurt.
However, I believe that citizen journalism also brings out many stories that we do not get to see in the news. It brings news to the people from the people. There is a very honest approach that readers appreciate.
An interesting article i found online was about how many online journalism sites were closing down. There is room to discuss why these sites failed and why there might not have been any support for them from the public in terms of funding. (http://mashable.com/2007/07/05/backfence/)
The story of Anas Aremeyaw Anas
Anas Aremeyaw Anas is a Ghanaian investigative journalist who is famous for using his anonymity as a tool for his investigation. He focuses on human rights and anti-corruption issues. In his speech in TEDtalks, he says repeatedly that he can only hope to change society and change the government only if he brings out the hard core evidence. He then produces video footage from his hidden camera and shows it to the audience. He is only able to do such journalism and give proof of corruption and evil activity through hard core evidence. He places his life at risk and writes stories that shake the country and expose evil in his country.
Through internet tools such as YouTube, we are able to view his story and find out what is going on with him wherever he is. His line of work is dangerous and many things that he has to uncover he has to uncover himself. For him, such information does not come through the internet or through social media sites. This kind of information requires him to physically go through the situation and experience before he can write a report about it. This may be due to the fact that he is living in a developing country and the people to not have as easy internet access as we have in Singapore.
Also, since the things that he reports on are so underground, and often illegal, citizens might not be as willing to share such news with the public. Citizens might also not feel a need to poke or prod in issues they feel are 'dangerous'. Their primary concern might be just to survive.
In Anas' case, the internet journalism may only be able to aid him up to a certain point.