If I were really to do citizen journalism justice, I would have just posted a 140 character blog

Also the blog would have contained half-baked information and contained at least one vague hashtag. Actually, let’s give that a shot.

#Amberg now considered “premiere citizen journalism expert” sources out of Elon say. Stay tuned for his final #litreview coming later today.

Boom, there we go. Shut it down. Blog over.

But really, the research and thinking I’ve put into this paper has made me so much more media aware than I was two months ago. When I first started kicking ideas around for this research project, I took my two areas of strength and looked at them. Sports? Meh, maybe, but that wasn’t something I felt I could really sink my teeth into for a research paper. Journalism? Well that’s something! What scares journalists the most? The internet of course! And how anybody can be a journalist on this Twitter contraption!

From there, my idea was launched. The two biggest questions I had going into this project were “what is the strict definition of a citizen journalist?” And “what does citizen journalism bring to the journalism table?”

Imagine journalism being a pot luck. Each news source brings something. The New York Times usually brings a pot roast, CNN brings a terrific cake, Al Jazera brings seriously the best calamari you’ve ever had. Is citizen journalism that loser who shows up with a bag of Doritos and a box of Harris Teeter cookies and is like “Uh, sorry dudes, this thing totally slipped my mind,”?

Unfortunately, those questions are really, really hard to answer. At least based on my research.

I was able to nail down that citizen journalists were, but not excluded to: bloggers, social media users at the scene of an event, amateur photographers who send in their content to news stations, podcast creators, and rebels in countries overthrowing their countries governments and reporting on the status. So that’s a broad spectrum.

The second question was easier to pin down, but had a more impassioned debate from both pro-citizen journalists and people who don’t feel that citizen journalists necessarily helped the news making and gathering cause.

I eventually came to a general conclusion in my brain. Citizen journalism has been a latent thing in our culture ever since regular journalism was a thing. It just was impossible for people to reflect openly on events and relay them to other citizens. At least on as wide of a scale as we do today. This is why I feel that citizen journalism is a good thing. It promotes conversation within the world of current events. I have a hard time finding fault in this. It’s when we get into practice that we have the biggest problems.

Citizen journalism can be false. And this can lead to regular journalism to be false, because citizen journalism is relied upon a little heavier than we really like to acknowledge. Back in the “Golden Days” of pre-internet journalism, guess who the people were who tipped off journalists? They certainly weren’t other journalists! They were regular people. Now there stages for regular people to relay their information to the public.

The area that I really want to study the most is the distribution of social networking sites, and how information is diffused through them. If there was a way to remove the content that was created by the major news organizations (CNN, AP, Al Jazera, NYT and etc.) what percentage of content would come organically from users? And after that, how wide of an audience could it reach?

How citizens interact with each other in the digital age is remarkably fascinating. I hope to learn more about it in the future.

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