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Everything You Need To Know About Citizen Journalism

Everything You Need To Know About Citizen Journalism

Have you ever wondered what you can do from your end just by being aware of the happenings in your surroundings? 

In the pre-digital era, you could have been the king by contributing the information to different publications or social media handles. However, in the present day, it has become easier to voice your opinions about a particular topic through social media platforms. 

The digital age gives everyone the chance to stand with what they think is right or wrong. That’s where Citizen Journalism comes into the picture! 



The concept of Citizen Journalism emerged from South Korea when the 727 citizens were unhappy with the traditional media and reporting. 

The Korean entrepreneur Oh Yeon Ho declared in 2000 that everyone is a reporter. 

Korea found it hard to pay their professional reporters, so they launched a website known as OhMYNews where anybody could write or report the news.  


 What is Citizen Journalism? – Definition

Citizen Journalism is news stories created by amateur reporters or ordinary citizens who may not have professional training in journalism. These ordinary people are the audience, viewers, or readers who want to share their stories and concerns in the society in which they live. 

Jay Rosen gives a simple definition of Citizen Journalism – When people popularly known as audience use the press devices they possess, they have to inform one another is known as Citizen Journalism. That is, ordinary people can be the primary creators and distributors of news.  

Citizen journalism should not be confused with community journalism or civic journalism. It is practiced by professional journalists only.  

With the use of modern technology and the global distribution of the Internet, people from different backgrounds can write on issues on various social media platforms. A citizen journalist has the potential to become a dominant player in public discussion. Facilitating diverse voices and views from the public improves the social responsibility of the media and helps strengthen the public sphere. 


Types of Citizen Journalism 

Citizen Journalism works in two ways: 

 1. Collaboration 

Here, many citizens work with different news organizations to help them with information from their locality with authentic sources. 

These journalists usually comment on published news websites and comment on the articles to give their views on the specific topic. 

Several journalists use crowdsourcing to get inputs for their content. Live blogging is the most used method used by citizen journalists to reach a larger audience. 

 2. Independent Reporting 

Under Independent Reporting, citizen journalists create their blogs or website. They are not affected or influenced by any third party. 

There are several ways for journalists to work independently, of which social media is the most used platform for independent citizen journalists.  


Advantages of Citizen Journalism 

Here are a few advantages of citizen journalism over other forms:

  • Allows covering all sides of the story  
  • Gives opportunity to locals and the public  
  • Focuses on small but real challenges  
  • Empowers local communities  
  • Low maintenance and has a reach to a large audience 


Examples of Citizen Journalism 

Example 1 

In 2011, Sohaib Athar randomly posted on Twitter “Helicopter hovering at Abbottabad at 1 AM”. Later he tweeted that more than one non-Pakistani helicopter was involved, of which one got shot. He also provided a map link for his followers to track the event. Later, it was established that Athar live-tweeted a secret mission by the special forces of the United States of America where they successfully executed Bin Laden. This moment is known as the “Twitters CNN Moment.” 

Example 2 

In 2008 in Mumbai, India ten terrorists from Lashkar-Taiba, a terrorist organization from Pakistan carried out shooting and bombing in Mumbai. During the attack, pictures were uploaded on different social media platforms to seek help and justice.  

 Example 3 

In 2004, the magnitude underwater earthquake caused Tsunami in Banda Aceh Indonesia, and the Indian Ocean. Locals of the place covered the real-time news and became a vital source for traditional media.


Evolution of News and PR in the Digital Age

The digital age has changed the norms of publishing news. All the media houses are focused on having a social media page to connect to the world. 

The traditional way of reporting is now only 40% of the world’s population. It is an old-school concept. Whatever the news might be, it is just a matter of seconds before we find it on social media. 

While people were only dependent on the traditional way of getting the news, the PR industry had their choices to reach out to their audiences. But people have become savvy at curating news and spreading it for their satisfaction. This has made Facebook the second biggest source for government and political news! 

These are the three steps that a PR Industry can keep in mind: 

 1. Recognizing Influencers 

Citizen Journalists don’t require any press credentials. Any random blogger can become a reason for a news crash. PR can play an important role here to check the facts and guide their blogger.  

2. Educate Clients 

PR pros must educate their clients about posting authentic news after getting the facts right. They should know the difference between vetted media, true versus sources or eyewitnesses.  

3. Monitor the Digital Universe 

The news cycle is 24/7. A PR pro needs to be aware of the happenings in and around the world. They should be the first ones to know.


Through the last decade, Citizen Journalism has increased rapidly with the help of the internet and communication platforms. Due to this, individuals can access more news and happenings from different parts of the world at a much faster rate.  

Advanced technology has increased the number of participants in journalism. Pictures and videos can be uploaded online, making social media a stronger producer in the country.  

48.3% of the world’s population have smartphones, which has resulted in an ability to access the browser. Large corporations have shifted their focus to online from offline. Experts, journalists, bloggers still cannot decide if citizen journalism is necessary for society or not.  

Citizen Journalism has impacted the traditional media to a great extent yet it cannot replace it.

Want to learn more about the media? Click here to read our guide to all things Media: the difference between roles, the relationship between editors and reporters, and so much more.

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OnePitch is comprised of tech-savvy publicists, rad data geeks, and former journalists who believe that the PR industry is long overdue for some innovation.

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