The lack of citizen involvement in political discourse gives rise to the concept of citizen journalism and the decline of journalism. The Internet and technology, in general, is ever evolving, meaning that professions such as journalism have declined in our society. As journalism has declined, some of the information relayed from these sources has been now put in the hands of everyday people such as myself. Citizen journalism has been put into practice more often as technology becomes more advanced each year. However with the expanding internet, there is a lot of information that is circulating out there, but not everyone and everything is reliable enough to relay that knowledge to the public’s knowledge. Who’s to say we can trust just any citizen to tell us vital information that could possibly affect our lives. Take this past election for example, there were so many stories being thrown at the public and it became exhausting to decipher factual and contextual sources from the false and attention grabbing sources. What used to be a profession has now turned into taking a photo or video on an iPhone and then getting that information out as fast as possible to whomever reaches it first.
In this day and age, there are ways to disseminate information to the public, whether it is true or not, but rather focused on what is able to grab the public’s attention. Citizen journalism as discussed in Luke Goode’s article titled, “ Social News, Citizen Journalism, and Democracy” says, “…the definition of citizen journalism does not have completely settled boundaries” (Lasica, 2003). There’s a vast majority of people in this world with a phone or access to some sort of technological device, which has the ability to record and distribute information. As previously discussed in various articles, defining citizen journalism is quite difficult, because it can be viewed as simply as recording something on a phone or actually posting a comment or review on something that has happened. As Clay Shirky states, “The future presented by the Internet is the mass amateurization of publishing and a switch from “Why publish this?” to “Why not?”” (Shirky, 8). With the evolving presence of the Internet, citizen journalism has become a method in which the public has the ability to get some kind of information, without the restrictions and imitations that professional journalists deal with.
Luke Goode discusses that it is important to bring awareness to events that may be unknown to the public which in turn, “…constitutes a vital democratic function of professional journalism (and to a lesser extent, some variants of citizen journalism)” (Goode, 1290). I think that at times the public can be discouraged at the way aspects of our political system are handled, so the involvement begins to disappear. I strongly believe that this is one of the reasons citizen journalism has become up and coming since the decline of journalism. With more and more people taking on some kind of responsibility with informing the public, the divide between good quality information and falsified information will start to blend to the point in which no one will be able to tell the difference. I do not think that we have reached that level in which the line is blurred indefinitely, but with the lack of involvement as citizens, there is a good chance that this may occur. The line of distinction is starting to fade and the lack of care and involvement doesn’t help.
Goode and Shirky discuss journalism and the unfortunate lack of it as a profession, as the world becomes more involved in technology and the internet. Although Shirky does not specifically go into citizen journalism like Goode does, Shirky presents the idea that anyone can become a journalist, which is what I consider to be a part of citizen journalism, because people nowadays have the capability to spread information and make it known to the public. Political involvement is increasingly important in society calling for the need for an educated public, but determining who to trust for information is becoming increasingly important too. In Shirky’s article I was able to get a sense of what is happening to the profession of journalism and in Goode’s article I learned that citizen journalism is becoming more relevant in the public sphere. With both of these articles I am able to have a better grasp on how the decline of journalism has led to citizen journalism, which has the ability to affect political discourse and the public sphere as a whole.
Goode, Luke. “Social news, citizen journalism and democracy.” New media & society 11.8 (2009): 1287-1305.
Shirky, Clay. “Everyone is a media outlet.” Here comes everybody: The power of organizing without organizations (2008): 55-80.