Is there a place for citizen journalism outside of breaking news?

As we’ve gone through this semester looking at television and its use of citizen journalism, I’ve learned a lot and I hope all you readers have as well! There’s a lot to talk about, as there are so many outlets in which citizen journalism can be used. All of this discussion seems to lead to one final question:

Is there a place for citizen journalism outside of breaking news?

My answer for this is: yes. But let me explain why.

Quite simply, I just think incorporating user-generated content is the direction in which journalism as a whole is headed. No matter the medium, it seems like it’s happening across the world of journalism. It creates engagement between viewers (or readers) and the media outlets. It creates conversation.

Technology and social media really have changed everything. Nowadays, news can come from anyone, at any time, from any corner of the world. This was never, ever possible 10,20,30 years ago. It’s hard to keep up with technology, because it is ever evolving, and it seems we, as citizens, can do more every single day. Citizen journalism feeds off of this. It is made possible by our everyday tools. It takes time to tell a story, and to tell it right.

People will always have opinions—what’s newsworthy? What isn’t newsworthy? It’s virtually impossible to get everyone to agree on everything. This is where citizen journalism can step in and fill that void. Citizens are walking around now with the ability to have their voices heard. I think any more, news stations and other media outlets are being forced to adapt to these changes. If they don’t, readers and viewers are left at stake.

As we’ve discussed before, using user-generated content is not a perfect system. There will be flaws, misconceptions, misunderstandings, mistakes, etc. But is that the end of the world? The best media outlets can do is have guidelines in place, to try and eliminate these potential problems. However, as we all know, not every media outlet operates the same. Each has different guidelines, expectations, and procedures that may alter whether or not they use user-generated content that is sent to them.

Overall, citizen journalism has a lot of positives outside of breaking news. It gives citizens a voice and the ability to actually help spread the word of different events that are happening in their communities. It gives a personal perspective to news that otherwise may not be told by professional reporters. It’s hard to beat getting the details on a story from people who are there—from people who live in those areas every day.

Citizen journalism can step in and fill a void that is left by professional reporters who are unable to report on everything. Citizen journalism can also be cost effective, because now it’s not uncommon for photographers to be losing their jobs in favor of other employees, freelancers, and citizen journalists who can be trained in the multimedia approach to news.

The bottom line is this: journalism is going to keep changing. With it, how news is gathered, produced, and disseminated to the public is going to change. News outlets are going to be forced to adapt and keep up with the changes, or be left behind. Citizen journalism absolutely has a place outside of just breaking news—we’re seeing it every day.