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Citizen Journalism and Professional Journalism: Ordinary people using social media to make journalism

by on July 5, 2013

The emergence of new social networks means that new sources of information are available on the web.
Citizen journalists are non-professional journalists working in communication by using tools such as the Internet (1). In fact, citizen journalism has developed with the spread of the Internet and its tools such as blogging, social networks, Facebook, Twitter, Skype, and Wikileaks in order to publish their owner articles and expresses their own opinion to the public. Nowadays the Internet is used by citizen not only to receive the information, but also increasingly as a way to transmit information. “The internet has changed the relationship between journalists and audiences from a one way-way, asymmetric model of communication to a more participatory and collective system, where citizen have the ability to participate in the news production process” (Hermida A. May 2010). (2)

Traditional journalists have also begun to use Facebook page and Twitter account in order to inform and to express their views. This can be argued as the era of online journalism, strongly because of globalisation that is today a multidimensional phenomenon; therefore information technologies are growing in all aspects of our lives. Noam Chomsky has described such shift of globalisation as ‘just international integration’.

However, the digital revolution the globalisation phenomenon has implications in new media. Citizen journalism -‘amateur’ has in fact its limitations. Just to mentioning one, journalism is considered as a job with its rules and ethics thus it cannot be improvised through ordinary people without any relative qualification. From this point of view, the citizen journalism is an unprofessional journalism and therefore worked with lack of objectivity on information. That is to say that nowadays, every citizen is free to give his own opinion through social networks, Facebook, Twitter, Skype etc.
The citizen journalists are users who publish what they see and what they live day to day. “social media have grown more complex. Slowly, quietly, the mainstream media have become, for many involved in activism, politics and journalism itself, a secondary source of information, while social networks have become the primary source”. (Paul Mason P, February 2013) (3)

However they only deliver raw data and not always verified. But with the social networks that offer new constraints to the journalist – the constraints of the proximity of readers – general they are all connected within the same network of information distribution.
Most citizen journalists define themselves as freedom activists, exercising an active role to inform people without censure. But the proliferation of non-professional journalists causes an upheaval in the news media including fundamental differences compared to professional journalists that in general are working with a higher degree of professionalism compared to citizen journalists who are often very partial and not credible. “the credibility of this information is difficult to verify “depending on where it’s from, to whom it’s attributed, (and) especially when various events are happening very quickly.” (Manneh, Suzanne M. 25, 2012). (4)
The fundamental difference between citizen journalism and professional journalism is based on freedom of expression and writing, because the professional journalism are general working for media groups belonging to industries and financial companies which the fist object is to protect their own interests.

By Hillary Profita/ CNET March31, 2006
‘Outside Voice: Samuel Freedman On The Difference Between The Amateur And The Pro’.

2.SSRN. Social Science Research Network- Tomorrow research’s Today
University of British Columbia-School of Journalism, April 30. 2010
Media/Culture Journal. Vol. 13, No. 2, May 2010
By Alfred Hermida. ‘From TV to Twitter: How Ambient News Become Ambient Journalism’

3.The Guardian, From Arab spring to revolution
Paul Mason, The Guardian, Tuesday 5 February 2013.

4. Pew research center’s for project for excellence in journalism., Arab-American Media. The Role of social media in Arab uprising, November 28, 2012
By Manneh, Suzanne. E-mail correspondence with PEJ. Oct. 25, 2012.


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