Journalism today is a profession that contains a number of different facets from the subject of your information, the way information is distributed, where it is distributed and even who does distributing. Of course there are the major news media agencies like the New York Times, Fox, CNN, Huffington Post and so on but what about Twitter, Facebook, Reddit and Instagram? As a whole, society now has access to not only a wide variety of information, but we also have the ability to distribute our own news while also influencing the major news agencies. Although it may still be the norm to receive a formal education in journalism it no longer excludes the everyday Joe from doing his own reporting that may become the most viewed link on Twitter or Facebook.
Welcome to the phenomenon of citizen journalism. Citizen journalism is when we as the audience begin to employ our own press tools to inform one another of events in a more personal and sometimes immediate way. For many it is no longer about where the information came from but whether it is relevant to your current situation and interests. We have the ability to talk about and share (to a certain extent) whatever information we would like and we are able to so no matter where we are through the advancement of technology. Cell phones and apps have given us access to distributing information wherever and whenever we would like with 24/7 audiences coverage. Allowing us to manipulate, uncover or cover any type of news we would like.
Although a lot has changed in journalism, gatekeeping still exists but not at the level it once did. Journalists may still be able to filter what they discuss within their news outlet but they are no longer society’s only source of information. If we are unable to get what we want through the news media then we now have the option of finding the information on a blog, Twitter or Facebook. Many major news agencies have accepted and may even value the citizen journalist. Today the majority of news agencies even provide citizen journalist with their own news sections: CNN iReport, Fox uReport, and Citizen Journalist on NBC. During the Colorado Springs wildfire many locals were capturing videos, photos and information, then in return distributing the information to the major news medias. For agencies like CNN, Fox and NBC the citizen journalist is an easy and free source.
We may have the ability to report what we feel is news worthy but journalists have not lost control of the gate entirely. What has now taken affect within society is gatewatching. We are able to filter and curate the news and information that passes before us by identifying what is of most relevance to our own personal interests. Through the use of social media we are able to like and follow the information that we find most interesting. Through this process of picking and choosing we have created another gate in the search for newsworthy material. The difference is we control this gate. If during the Olympics I decide I want my Twitter account to be full of information covering partner ice-skating I have that power. The interesting factor is that even though I am able to gather all this information elsewhere, once I become interested in a topic I still go to those major news agencies or turn on the T.V to get the full story. These forces may be reinforcing each other through a type of compare and contrast between personal and corporate view but in the end there is still the question of credibility. News agencies have professional training and immense resource that the average Twitter enthusiast probably does not have the same access to. So yes, the citizen journalist is influencing and changing the ways we are able to obtain information but the professional journalist still maintain a larger amount of resources and therefore a higher degree of credibility.