By: Alexis Mitchell
Citizen journalism has caused a lot of confusion about what is credible and reliable news.
Today, many people have trouble trusting the media. With President Donald J. Trump putting the media under fire, and fake news on the rise, it’s no wonder some are trying to “report” the news themselves.
To make the definition of citizen journalism clearer, I talked to University of Findlay Professor of Communication Dr. Diana Montague.
“My definition is someone who is not employed as a journalist, using journalistic techniques to gather and disseminate information,” said Montague.
Technology continues to grow and expand right in front of our own eyes. These days, anyone with a phone can take a video at an event or of something happening, “report” on it, and then post it on social media. Even though my stance on citizen journalists is more negative, Dr. Montague gave me a different view.
“It can help people, it can help first responders, in that particular circumstance I think it’s great,” stated Montague. “I think it can be of value for people who feel they do not have a voice”.
Since the first amendment was written, everyone has had a right to voice their opinion. As a journalist, it’s my job to allow others to tell their story and for them to have a voice in their community. With that being said, it is also my job to keep people informed. So, when there are articles with false information that people believe, it makes my job harder.
People are starting to believe anyone who claims they are a journalist. However, in reality, just because they are in a suit sitting at a news desk does not make them a trained, credible journalist. It’s frustrating because there are people going through school and being trained to keep others informed, while citizen journalists are sharing whatever information they want and people are choosing to believe them instead of professionals.
“That’s what concerns me, that audiences are not always good at distinguishing the difference between structured, professional journalism and people who are using the tools that we [journalists] use to get the message out there,” said Montague.
As for the future of journalists, they are just going to have to double, and triple check their sources. The less mistakes journalists make and more credible their work is, the more people will believe them, and go to them as their first choice to keep up with the news. My hope is that there will be a balance between citizen journalism and actual trained journalists and that the public will learn how to tell the difference between credible and non-credible news sources.
No matter what, professional journalists will always be a profession that’s in demand. Without journalists, there would be no credible news out there and no one would be informed on what’s going on.
“It is a noble, needed profession in a democracy,” added Montague.