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Communications & Media
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Should Citizen Journalists be Trusted? (Essay Sample)

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OPTION 2: Digital Media Discussion Should Citizen Journalists be Trusted? In Digital Media, topics and concerns are brought to view that pertain to the changing role of journalism with the advent of the Internet, 24/7 news cycles, bloggers as journalists, traditional vs new news media, as well as the technological advances that provide opportunities for manipulation of the news. For example, from the article comes this: This convergence of ease of capture, ease of transmission, and ease of manipulation questions the traditional principles of photojournalism which were developed for non-digital capture and transmission of pictures and video. …one issue is whether newsrooms can trust the easily obtained images of citizens and citizen journalists. Who is the sender and how do we know that this image is really of the event in question? ….Another issue is whether a journalist or a citizen used technology to alter the photograph, e.g. to add an object to the picture or to take an object out. The manipulation of images is so tempting that mainstream newsrooms have fired a string of photojournalists over the past decade to discourage fraudulent practices.

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Should Citizen Journalists be Trusted?
Introduction
Digital Media Ethics deals with practices and norms of digital news media. Digital news media comprises of blogging, online journalism, citizen journalism and social media. It also includes questions about how professional journalism should use "new media" to research and publish stories, and also how to text and images provided by citizens. However, there have been doubts of whether news by citizen journalists should be trusted. Many professional journalists are even of the opinion that these citizens should not be referred to as journalists. Their argument is that these citizen journalists have little or no skills, especially since they pose no formal education or training.
Summary
According to Stephen J.A, there is a transformation in the media revolution both fundamentally and irrevocably, in terms of the nature of journalism and its ethics (Digital Media Ethics ). Therefore, the citizens can publish news, and the internet encourages new interactive and immediate forms of journalism. The media ecology is evolving at a furious pace, where professional journalists now share the journalistic sphere with bloggers, tweeters, citizen journalists, and social media users. These new practices threaten the old practices because professional journalism is forced to struggle since audiences are migrating online. There is a concern for journalism due to the shrinkage of newsrooms. There is also an emerging class of media brands that are considered smart and unmatched in the media world. They are very entrepreneurial and digitally native.
There is an important question; who should be considered a journalist. There are three approaches that answer this question. In the skeptical approach, one might dismiss the question as not important. It argues that one has the right to call himself a journalist, because anyone can be a journalist. In the empirical approach, clear examples of what journalists engaged in throughout history are looked at, and these distinct features are used to provide a definition of journalism. The normative approach states that unless journalists have highly developed skills acquired through training and or formal education, they have no right to be called journalists. The normative approach is based on the view of journalism as the responsibility of accurately informing the public.
Stephen states "most of the journalism principles were developed over the past century, originating in the construction of professional, objective ethics for mass commercial newspapers in the late 19th century." There is, therefore, a central question of whether the existing media ethics is suitable for today’s and tomorrow’s news media that is interactive, immediate, and a journalism of both professionals and amateurs. Our society is slowly moving towards a mixed media that is professional journalism and a news media citizen, across many platforms. Media Ethics should be re-invented for the current media.
Lately, there have been reports and images circulating all over the globe at an incredible speed through the social sites such as Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, among others. The speeds that these reports circulate with put an abnormal pressure on newsrooms to publish certain stories even before they are checked and verified for credibility. Many organizations pick up online rumors and publish them without checking them adequately, and sometimes this can be a great harm. False reports can cause international panic, accidents, or even result to these newsrooms being sued or closed indefinitely by court ruling.
Citizen Journalism
Citizen journalists offer one of the most convincing arguments in news gathering; they provide access to essential information that would otherwise be unreachable. The most striking example is the ongoing conflict in Syria (Doha Centre for Media Freedom). Citizen journalists continue to provide footage of attacks across the country, and these documentations are given to news outlets that simply do not have any ways of accessing these areas. Consequently the recurring theme, "this video could not be verified by…" has been heard in much of the conflict in Syria international media coverage. This theme is a highly significant disclaimer, although most people that take these footages do not recognize this fact as they are taking the footage (Doha Centre for Media Freedom). Questions regarding ethics and other issues such as reliability arise when covering any incident. Dozens of other websites now want citizens to report for them. They especially want people who have been involved in floods, earthquakes, or those who have been on site during campus massacre, and have witnessed or have recorded footage. Car, train and helicopter crashes, robberies and other countless news-making events, can make local news. CNN’s iReport is one of such websites. All a citizen journalist has to do is upload their story, photo, or video to this website. According to The Guardian, CNN featured 915 citizen journalists submitted reports that were drawn from more than ten thousand submissions (Science Daily). These numbers have been growing constantly and are still expected to grow. "User-generated news," as it is often called, is primarily the result of the revolution of mobile phones. Although people have always been around events that are deemed newsworthy, it is only now that they have the capacity to report them to hand. With a mobile phone that can take a photo and record a video clip, any citizen reporter can take a photo or record a clip, and write a caption. They then send it to any news source in a couple of minutes. That citizen reporter on the spot will most certainly do it much faster than CNN will to get a reporter to the spot (Science Daily). What’s more, these untrained reporters do not have to be brilliant. Shaky footage or blurred footage of a horrible plane crash is certainly better than no footage at all, and it might even make the video look more real and authentic.
OhMyNews, a South Korean news source, was one of the pioneers of citizen journalism. It was launched in 2000, and it was formed as a professional alternative to newspapers for which were paid. Topix news source is a similar but a more global exam...
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