Gatecrashing, The Olympics, and the rise of Citizen Journalism

Historically, journalists have ruled the world “in front of the gates”, following stories, and telling the rest of us what they deem important. However, with the birth of the Internet and the rise of social media, “citizen journalism” has become a large part of our information gathering process. For example, since the beginning of the modern day Olympic Games, the global stage and the U.S. specifically would have to wait until major networks like NBC would cover them several hours later. Although events would occur several hours before the American public could see them, the anticipation was still a huge part of the experience. Now, with instant reporting from anybody at the games, the anticipation is lost. I can wake up in the morning and expect to watch slopestyle that evening, wondering all day who is going to lay down the smoothest run. However, when I get on Instagram or Facebook, I can see that Joss Christensen, Gus Kenworthy, and Nick Goepper swept the podium for the U.S. without being able to watch them ski.

Olympic Gold Medalist, Joss Christensen posted this Instagram around 8:00 AM  (US Mountain Time) on Thursday morning.


NBC didn’t have any coverage of the event until primetime Thursday evening. I watched the event already knowing that the U.S. won Gold, Silver, and Bronze, so when I saw the three podium worthy runs, it wasn’t as climactic.

However for other global events like the conflict in Syria, citizen journalism holds a more substantial role for the people of the world. We can see real issues occurring across the pond without the bias of a massive media conglomeration or the inherent danger of sending  correspondents into war zones. “In the past, if the media wasn’t there to cover an event, it was like it never happened”(Karam, Syria’s Civil War Plays Out on Social Media). Now, we don’t need the classic, mainstream journalism to cover these dangerous and highly controversial issues.

The Olympics and the conflict in Syria are just two examples of citizen journalism taking over the traditional news medium. We no longer need journalists to tell us what is going on somewhere because everybody is on the Internet. Typical journalism conventions are dying. Everybody that carries a smartphone walks their own beat and can say: “I’m there, you’re not let me tell you about it” because they will be wherever a major newsworthy event is happening. People are now able to bust down the gates of journalism and post whatever is happening at any time as long as they have an internet connection. This gatecrashing trend is becoming more and more apparent as major events occur like the Olympics or the spreading conflict in Syria. It is really interesting to see how the Internet and social media are shaping modern day journalism, whether good or bad. It really makes me wonder what the future will hold for traditional journalism.


One thought on “Gatecrashing, The Olympics, and the rise of Citizen Journalism”

  1. This blog post was very timely, given that the Olympics are (or were, by now) going on in Sochi. I am an avid social media user and constantly find myself caught up in following events as they happen, but in this case I feel that citizen journalism becomes a negative tool. For me, the Olympics are exciting because they create a suspense factor and build excitement when a viewer does not know the outcome of a game, race, or event. Journalists, both citizen and not, reporting the Olympic results hours before the events are seen by viewers in the United States can make watching the Olympics on television anticlimactic and predictable. In the case of the Olympics it makes me sad that the suspense, entertainment, and spectacle are removed by the constant sharing of information.

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