“A woman passing a serious car accident snaps a smartphone picture and posts it on her Facebook chat site with the caption, ‘bingle on the highway, hope everyone is okay’.”
In today’s society, that would be considered not only news, but an act of journalism. Documenting events and posting about them online for the public to read or see. The internet, and social media, has forever changed the concept of journalism, and has birthed something new: Citizen Journalism. To compare the two methods, Kate Hill writes for ABC South East SA that her branch of professional journalists only have 2000~ followers online, while a ‘non-professional’ social media page called ‘Limestone Coast Community News’ has 8,300. The owner of the page, Mr Lynagh describes the popularity of the page as “mind-blowing”.
Social Media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and especially Twitter, all allow us to broadcast ourselves and our stories to whoever is listening. The term ‘Snapchat Journalism‘ has even been coined, since it’s an effective tool in recording, broadcasting and sharing your stories all across the globe.
Chris Shaw, the editor for ITN Productions says, “Social networks are opening up whole new vistas for documentary filmmakers“, and goes on to explain the benefits of citizen journalism in terms of his documenting work. Kate Bulkly from The Guardian writes about the possible benefits and negative aspects of citizen journalism, and focuses around documentarians who had used found footage from events in the work. Aside from Chris Shaw, she also interviews Jeff Deuthman who claims “The new technologies certainly open up new possibilities for filmmaking“.
Dan Gilmore from The Guardian as well writes about these issue, but changes his focus to the Ferguson Shootings in America, and how the public “turned the notion of ‘see something, say something’ back on the state, via a digital tool of enormous power“.
With today’s technology, documenting and sharing the world is at your fingertips
Whether if you’re aware of it or not, by sharing what’s going on around you online to other people, you’re actively participating in Citizen Journalism, one story at a time.