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Citizen Journalism and Traditional Media; the differences.

Citizen Journalism and Traditional Media; the differences.
Citizen Journalism and Traditional Media; the differences.

Citizen Journalists are ordinary people who perform the job of trained journalists. Citizen journalists are related to names like community journalist, democratic journalism, Participatory journalists and many others. These journalists have the luxury to perform the work of professional journalists as a result of the emergence of new media; the internet which has come with it, the social media platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, YouTube, Viber, Pinterest and others. The job of a trained journalist is such that they cannot be everywhere at the same time to report events and as a result, citizen journalists with complex phones and devices at the time of an incident, can take pictures, record videos, audios and share information. Therefore, acting as first hand news source.

Also in civilizations where the press is censored, citizen journalists act as an alternate news source. Social media regarded as the prospect of communication is a myriad array of internet built tools and platforms that increase and enhance the sharing of information. This new form of media makes the transfer of texts, videos, audio, photos and information in general increasingly fluid among internet users. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest have designed online groups where people can disseminate as much or as little personal details or information. Social bookmarking tools and news sites such as Digg, Delicious, Reddit and many others make searching for exact info, images or websites simple by allocating or tasking individual sites with searchable keywords.

Traditional media also known as analogue media or mainstream media comes in the form of print (newspapers, magazines), broadcast (T.V, radio). Grimes (2008) explain the traditional media as ‘those’ businesses which produce and dispense information and entertainment content which pre-date the profitable aspect of the internet. He sees newspapers, magazines, yellow pages, outdoor advertising, radio and television stations and broadcast networks as traditional media. Traditional media can also be thought of as the old way of doing things. A case in point is sending mail through the post office and reading newspapers whereas sending email, reading electronic newspaper articles on the internet, listening to radio via the internet. Also, the use of mobile phones for taking pictures and sharing information is an example of new or modern ways of doing things. However, the creation of new media (social media) has become a great danger to the traditional media. The social media has an amount of positives over the traditional media in the subsequent ways;

First and foremost, the new media (citizen journalism) provides instant satisfaction and response to its audience. Traditional media does not give its audience the platform to take part in news production. They are inactive; also audience do not have the extravagance to choose what section of news to listen to and due to this, maximum satisfaction is not gained. There is lack of information flow from audience to the mainstream media thus comments and opinion. With social media, audience can select from a large variety of news categories to listen or read e.g. sports news, educational news and so on. Audiences possess the chance to express opinions on issues and participate in news production.

Secondly, because trained journalists follow a certain style in news reportage (hard news formula), there is not much of inventiveness and flair like the citizen journalists who make news interactive and lively through the use of vodcast and podcast and also comic and other elements in bringing a piece alive, making it easy to comprehend.

Thirdly, gatekeeping role as performed by the mainstream media as part of ethics is forgone by citizen journalists who report to the very core of issues. They do not regard any issue as sensational like the traditional does before selecting what is suitable as news. This remarkable move by citizen journalist with the use of new media is intimidating the job of mainstream journalists and media houses. The fast and quick way of transmitting and obtaining news and information from citizen journalists through social media has led to a low patronage of mainstream news outlets especially the print media.

Before these media houses arrive at the scene of events to cover and process the news before printing, the citizen journalists would have captured and shared to a large number of people within a small period of time, and these audience would not buy a newspaper to read the same news. Creativeness and style displayed by citizen journalists in their reportage makes audience appreciate news better due to its interactive nature better than the ‘hard’ news from the traditional media. 

In addition, as a result of the gatekeeping role performed by the traditional media as against the exposure of every detail of news by citizen journalists, audiences have lost trust in the traditional media. In view of the threat caused by the new media, an entrepreneur and author, Andrew Keen is of the opinion that ‘cult of the amateur’ is undermining great organisations who have constantly produced value through impacting quality information and education’. Keen says, ‘we need to fight back to retain the structures and professions that are in danger of dying out, taking with them concepts such as value and trust’. It comes as no surprise that a majority of media houses have resorted to the ways of the new media in addition to their traditional ways of doing things. Today during news bulletin, audiences are given the platform to share their views on issues and report news around them. For instance, TV3 Ghana has a section in its news called ‘my news’ and ‘viewer comments’, also call-in during radio programs. Some media houses resort to citizen journalists in various regions to receive information or news especially in those communities or regions they find themselves.

This is to get citizens involved in news process. Significantly, the utilization of ICT infrastructure during news bulletin and programs. For example, the use of laptops and auto scripts, instead of reading news on sheet of papers, IPADs, LCD television among others.

Finally, the re-structuring of how news is disseminated with reference to infotainment. This is the combination of both information and entertainment in news delivery usually associated with political communication. The use of cartoons in newspapers can be an example. Finally, mainstream media houses have brought their works online to reach a larger audience just like citizen journalists. The e-newspapers, listening to radio and news bulletins on the internet and sending feedbacks. For example, myjoyonline.com is news online feed which belongs to Joy F.M of Ghana. 

Although the job of trained journalists is at the fore front in battle with the emergence of powerful voices who used to be the passive audience but now reporting news as journalists with the use of new media, traditional media as well as professional journalists are joining the new media train to uphold their position as the 4th estate of the realm and as the powerful mouthpiece of society. 

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Source: HR Forum News

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