Policy and Goverence

Social News, Citizen Journalism and Democracy by Luke Goode explains the term metajournalism as the chance to submit, rate, recommend and comment on news stories. Citizen journalism, as also referenced in this article, refers to a range of web-based practices whereby ‘ordinary’ users engage in journalistic practices. This can include blogging, video sharing, and even reposting news from professional news outlets.  With the increased ability for ordinary citizens to become ‘journalist’ one would assume that metajournalism is threatening professional journalist. The biggest problem now, for when journalist are reporting, is that the professionals are just retelling a story that already broke through new media forms from citizen journalists. Not too many years ago, you had to wait for the morning newspaper to view the sport scores from the night before or the news that broke over night. Instead, people are receiving important new information from Web 2.0. Platforms such as Twitter and Facebook have allowed everyday citizens with a computer, smartphone, or tablet to post information that has yet to be reported on by traditional forms of media.

My most memorable encounter with getting news first from social media, was on May 1, 2011 when Osama Bin Laden was killed. While on Twitter I found the first ‘Breaking News’ tweet about Osama Bin Laden’s death and then verification through the millions of tweets that followed. Even though the information was correct and verified, I still turned to traditional media, the television, and turned on CNN for the breaking story. Later that night, I discovered that a citizen in Pakistan live tweeted the raid without knowing it was a United States military operation that was occurring. The article can be read here: http://mashable.com/2011/05/02/live-tweet-bin-laden-raid/

With people having the power to put ‘anything’ out there on the Internet, it is difficult to regulate citizen journalists.  This changes the traditional ‘gatekeeping’ process. Information is still regulated by citizen journalism practices, public and private institutions, experts, celebrities, etc. Professional media outlets still exert gatekeeping powers also, but under more complex and challenging circumstances. This tells society not to dismiss the idea of gatekeeping, but to explore new modes of emerging gatekeeping power.

Although both articles this week focused more on the politics of social news, I am more fascinated by the fact that anyone from anywhere can be a journalist. A person walking down the street can take a picture of a car accident with his or her iPhone and quickly update it to Facebook even before the police arrive at the scene. Or someone can post a picture of his or her new puppy. No matter the significance of the news, everyday people have the ability to entertain, inform, educate, and influence others.

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