Citizen’s Journalism

In a recent issue of Journalism Studies, Zvi Reich presents a thought-provoking investigation into the daily practices of citizen’s news media, arguing that ‘ordinary citizens can serve as a vital complement to mainstream journalism, however not as its substitute’. Although he lists several advantages of citizen reporters, one central issue is couched in a lexis of deficiency. Citzen reporters have ‘inferior access to news sources’, an ‘aversion of human agents’ and thus ‘limited news access’.

Reich thus opens up fascinating terrain for those exploring citizen’s media. Is it necessarily a deficit that citizen reporters do not rely as heavily as their mainstream counterparts on elite sources, given that, as he points out, mainstream reporters are regularly criticised for giving some of their elite sources ‘extensive and favored coverage’?

The paper also – controversially – implies an analogy between (i) the differences between citizen’s journalism and mainstream journalism and (ii) traditional modes of describing the differences between the genders: women have well-developed intuition; men have authority and rationality:

[The study] may very well yield significant insights concerning mainstream journalism as well. For instance, the present study’s findings may point to those elements of journalism that can be tackled by lay citizens, on account of their developed intuition or common sense. Conversely, the findings may shed light on those areas that are best left to the discretion of professional journalists. (p. 740)

Worth reading:
Reich, Z. (2008). How citizen’s create news stories. Journalism Studies, 9(5), 739 – 758.

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