Citizen Journalism

In class the past few weeks we have discussed citizen journalism and it’s place today in the media landscape.  Citizen journalism has been on the rise in the last 10 years and one of the precursors to the shift to citizen journalism was the “Miracle on the Hudson” in early 2009.  As most know, pilot Chesley Sullenberger attempted an emergency landing of a passenger aircraft US Airways Flight 1549 by landing in the Hudson river in New York City on January 15th, 2009.  He was successful in his attempt and all passengers safely deboarded the plane and made it to land.  The outlet to break news of this story was not a news channel or media group, but an everyday American citizen who posted about the Miracle to Twitter.

Krums’ photo, uploaded to TwitPic and tweeted to the public, broke the story nearly 15 minutes before any news outlets had the opportunity to do so. Though he only had roughly 170 followers, the picture went viral. Due to the volume of hits as the picture spread, TwitPic servers crashed.  This moment sparked a new wave of journalism that we are talking about in the classroom today; journalism where the everyday civilian has the ear and eyes of the public.



Mobile Journalism

Citizen Journalist in Syria
Citizen/Mobile Journalist in Syria

Imagine living in a war zone in Syria.  Now imagine living in a war zone where the media is barred from reporting events to the outside world.  Mobile Journalism is a new wave of journalism that has come to fill in the gaps where members of the media cannot reach.  In Aleppo, mobile journalists can be everyday people who are dedicated to reporting events about the war that Assad and his government try to cover by barring establishment journalists from entering the country and reporting.  These “citizen journalists” take to the streets with their phones to take photo, video, and write accounts of the horror happening in their country, usually anonymously as not to be targeted by the pro-Assad regime.  Thanks to mobile telephones, which are easily transported and hidden, people in war-torn areas have the opportunity to tell their story to the world when the media does not have the ability to speak for them.

Citizen/ Mobile Journalists in New York City at Occupy Wall Street Movement
Citizen/ Mobile Journalists in New York City at Occupy Wall Street Movement

Mobile journalism does not have to take place in a war-torn country like Syria, we have also seen it in the United States.  As seen in social/digital activism cases like the Occupy Wall Street movement, social media catapults social movements onto a stage like never before. While the movement was seen on television and in the papers as New York City 99 percenters protesting outside Wall Street, “another crowd assembled in a range of online spaces. Moving between the physical and the virtual… appropriating its platforms and creating new structures within it. As they posted links, updates, photos and videos on social media sites; as they deliberated in chat rooms and collaborated on crowdmaps; as they took to the streets with smartphones, occupiers tested the parameters of this multiply mediated world.” Social media and mobile devices are invaluable tools that activists today have at their fingertips. The ability to reach millions with the touch of a “post” button and organize a demonstration or create an online petition lets people around the world become a part of a movement that before the internet would have stayed centralized, or have taken much longer to reach a global footing. Media journalists can use social media to get the word out about any cause they are passionate about and to mobilize the masses as well.