Citizen journalism: recording to inform the world around us

Today, people have video cameras sitting in their back pockets, ready at any moment to capture anyone’s actions— good or bad. Whether you know it or not, someone or something is always watching. 

Although, this seems to be an invasion of privacy (and to some extent it is) a lot of times people are able to capture acts of injustice or breaking news using their cell phones. This is referred to as citizen journalism. 

Citizen journalism is the collecting and broadcasting of information by the general public typically on the Internet. 

Armed with mobile devices, the public has the power to connect with people worldwide and become agents of democracy. The average person has the power to speak out, to be a voice in conversations across the world that could ultimately generate change in society. 

 Social media has become the platform for the average person to state their grievances and objections. Powerful movements have ignited through viral news, bringing to light vital information. 

Twitter, Instagram and many other social media sites provide international conversation, making it easy and convenient to voice an opinion and reach out to others who feel the same way, sparking conversation.

Social media allows people to communicate messages much faster. It has become a source for news for many people and circulates international reports and current events in a way that is not guided solely by “mainstream media.” Social media allows a widespread group of people to call out and correct injustices and inaccuracies in the news.

According to Gallup.com, “Americans’ trust and confidence in the mass media ‘to report the news fully, accurately and fairly’ has dropped to its lowest level in Gallup polling history, with 32 percent saying they have a great deal or fair amount of trust in the media. This is down eight percentage points from last year.”

People feel compelled to take their phones out and record things other people somewhere else would not believe. People record anything because they can, having visual evidence to support their truth. 

Videotaping can act as protection. With the intense climate of police officers and motorists in recent events, recording traffic stops can offer a sense of security for the driver. 

Civilians have the control to give the raw reality of national and international news. They have zero incentives and no motives but to inform the public. It allows their viewers to see inside the world they are unfamiliar with yet so close to. 

Sophomore psychology major Margaret Prescod said, “Things that need exposure, whether it be acts of injustice or everyday overlooked situations, should be recorded. Once these videos go viral, people start to discuss topics that are often tossed to the side. It gives people a chance to voice their opinions and, in most cases, bring others together. Society seems to become more passionate and empathetic toward any given situation when there is video evidence of it.” 

Sometimes it is OK to press record based on instinct because you have a feeling someone has to see what you see, regardless if it is three people or 3,000 people. This is a new age of journalism we are undertaking where anyone can report their own news whether it is locally or around the world. 

—Qur’an Hansford 

Sophomore journalism major

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