Let’s take a step back and look at one of the many theoretical frameworks that can help to explain citizen journalism a little bit better. Most of us have grown up in a world that always had the internet. I know personally, I don’t really remember life without it. I even survived life through dial-up! Thinking about it though, the internet has kind of become a one-stop shop for us. As citizens, we can shop, pay bills, read news, share news, look at photos, work, send e-mails and a slew of other activities all from a computer screen. With this though, comes the extreme power of shaping the public reality in which we live. What do I mean?
Think of it like this: every time I share news online, report news of my own, or read a news outlet’s story about any given issue, I’m helping to shape the public reality. You may not think of it like that, but it’s entirely true, especially for citizen journalists. The idea of inter-media agenda building studies the relationship between the mass media and the mass public. This is something that citizen journalism has a big hand in. If there is a news situation that happens to be covered by a citizen journalist, and it gets posted on YouTube and goes viral, this suddenly becomes what the country is interested in. This is a great example of inter-media agenda building. Not that you came here to read about theory, though, so what does this really mean in layman’s terms? Essentially, this:
You may not think you have a voice. It’s like when people don’t vote in a presidential election, because they don’t think their vote counts. What if everybody thought like that? We would never get anything accomplished as a society. This works the same way for citizen journalism. If everybody was afraid to share their story, or a story going on around them, society would suffer quite a bit. There’s more to the world (heck, even to the country) in which we live, and citizen journalism is a great way for people to find out what’s going on that doesn’t deal with government, or a terror attack, or something else catastrophic. I believe it’s our job, as a society, to understand one another. That’s what citizen journalism does- it goes way beyond the scope of just breaking news. We can learn things, find people who share similar interests, find emotional support, or just learn about a good deed someone did in a state hundreds of miles from where we live.