In last Wednesday’s class we look at an IB exam question about citizen journalism, and it quickly became obvious that we need to study more examples of this phenomenon. This is also a good example of how wider reading can help students, because those who read the news regularly would have been well aware of the role of citizen journalism in the 2009 plane crash into the Hudson river, as well as the recent “Arab Spring” uprisings in Egypt, and Syria.
Other citizen journalism examples include coverage of the 2005 bombings in London, including this award-winning image taken moments after a bomb exploded on a bus in Tavistock Square.
Other images showed the aftermath of explosions on the London Underground (subway). Many of these images and videos were quickly picked up by established news organisations such as the BBC, and later many readers contributed their own eye-witness accounts on many news sites. Citizen journalism was the only source of information for some time because security immediately after the bombings prevented journalists from gaining access.
Of course, these situations sometimes bring out the worst in people, and there was considerable criticism after the bombings of the minority of people trying to photograph the victims and capitalise on the story.
In addition to the social and ethical considerations, you should also consider the technologies that enable citizen journalism. Mobile phones with integrated cameras and 3G or 4G Internet connectivity, web 2.0 technologies like blogs, and social media such as Twitter are obvious (but still important examples). However, there are also less obvious examples – such as tagging systems, which allow users to quickly categorize their content, and people to quickly find it across many users’ accounts or profiles.
These are just a few examples of citizen journalism from the many out there. Remember, wider reading is essential for ITGS to help you improve your understanding of how technology is used all around us, and to provide you with the latest news and examples which may help you in exams.