Participatory journalism – citizen journalism – grassroots journalism – call it what you will. These are all terms used to describe the integration of user-generated content into traditional journalistic models and practice. Dominigo et al. (2008) suggest that these new forms are solid competitors for traditional news, and forms that are challenging news journalism’s role and function in society.
Citizen produced content has the ability to deliver new layers to everyday news. Personal anecdotes and moments captured by individuals give us an ‘on the ground’ perspective of news and events and have the ability to engage the network of Internet users fuelled by participatory features and vernacular involvement.
When citizen journalism first began to gain momentum in the online arena, it was seen to be a main contender for the demise of news media, as internet users went online to find their news in non-institutional locations, free from political agenda and bias. Instead, we have begun to see the opposite occurring. Over the last few years we have witnessed a gradual transformation of the news that we consume, one that which is redefining news journalism as we know it.
Media institutions are now capitalizing on the user-generated phenomenon and altering their business models and plans accordingly in order to include it. CNN has brought us iReport, a site where any individual can upload photographs, videos, opinion posts and other content in order to share their story and contribute to institutional news. The New York Times has followed suit, having a dedicated section on their online site, as well as a blog and large portion of their Sunday paper dedicated to publishing user-generated opinion pieces (Hall 2013).
What we are seeing is a focus of ‘news as communication’, rather than ‘news as a lecture’ (Domingo et al. 2008), which is a pretty exciting thing for the empowerment of individuals and the enhancement of our news media content.
Domingo, D, Quandt, T, Heinonen, A, Paulussen, S, Singer, J & Vujnovic, M 2008, ‘Participatory Journalism Practices in the Media and Beyond’, Journalism Practice, vol.2, no.3, pp.326-342.
Hall, T 2013, Op-Ed and You, The New York Times, viewed 2 May 2014.