Citizen Journalism

Definition of Citizen Journalism

Citizen journalism refers to the practice where individuals, who are not professional journalists, collect, analyze, and disseminate news and information through various platforms, such as blogs, social media, and independent websites. It often involves real-time reporting and eyewitness accounts of events by the general public. This form of journalism has grown with the popularity of the internet, allowing citizens to contribute to news reporting and provide diverse perspectives on various issues.


The phonetic pronunciation of “Citizen Journalism” is: /ˈsɪtəzən ˌʤɝːnəˈlɪzəm/Citizen: /ˈsɪtəzən/Journalism: /ˌʤɝːnəˈlɪzəm/

Key Takeaways

  1. Citizen Journalism empowers everyday individuals to report on local or global events, breaking down barriers between professional news organizations and the general public.
  2. Technology, especially social media and smartphones, has played a vital role in the expansion of Citizen Journalism, making it easier to capture, share, and disseminate information quickly.
  3. While Citizen Journalism can provide unique perspectives and on-the-ground reporting, it’s important to consider issues like credibility, accuracy, and unethical practices associated with untrained journalists.

Importance of Citizen Journalism

Citizen journalism is important because it empowers the general public to collect, report, and disseminate news and information, often through digital platforms.

This democratization of the news generation process challenges the traditional role of professional news organizations and allows for a more diverse range of perspectives and topics to be covered.

Citizen journalism fosters transparency, encourages debate, and holds individuals and institutions accountable by providing real-time coverage of unfolding events and giving voice to the unheard.

Moreover, through enabling individuals in the digital age to share their unique experiences and amplify local issues, citizen journalism can drive social change, bridge gaps in societal understanding, and contribute to a more well-informed and engaged society.


Citizen journalism is driven by the purpose of empowering everyday individuals to partake in the role of traditional news reporters through the use of modern technology, such as smartphones and social media. In essence, it is a democratization of the news-making process and a means to ensure more accurate and diverse coverage of events and stories that might otherwise be overlooked or under-reported by mainstream media. Through citizen journalism, people on the ground are given a voice to share their perspectives and unfiltered observations, whether that involves documenting local events, breaking news situations, or shining a light on injustices.

This approach to journalism can lead to a more inclusive and representative understanding of what is happening in communities at both local and global levels. Citizen journalism serves as a tool to hold traditional news outlets and authorities accountable. By capturing and sharing real-time events and stories, citizen journalists play a crucial role in strengthening media plurality and exposing propaganda or false information.

Additionally, traditional journalists often rely on citizen-generated content to enrich their own coverage, as it provides unique insights and firsthand accounts that might otherwise be unavailable. In promoting transparency and engagement, citizen journalism contributes to nurturing informed societies and fostering a sense of global citizenship. While it is important to remain vigilant about the credibility and reliability of citizen journalism, its growing impact on the media landscape cannot be underestimated.

Examples of Citizen Journalism

Citizen journalism is when regular people, not professional journalists or news reporters, contribute news, information, or stories to the public through various means such as blogs, social media, or online platforms. Here are three real-world examples:

The Arab Spring (2010-2011): During the Arab Spring, citizen journalists played a critical role in documenting and disseminating information about the protests, demonstrations, and political upheavals occurring in several countries in the Middle East and North Africa. Ordinary people used social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube to share news, images, and videos of the events unfolding on the ground, providing the world with real-time updates and insights that traditional media outlets couldn’t offer.

The Boston Marathon Bombing (2013): Following the bombing at the Boston Marathon, citizen journalists were among the first to share images, videos, and information about the incident on social media. They provided eyewitness accounts and helped in identifying and locating the suspects. Additionally, the Reddit community created a dedicated forum for discussing and following the latest updates. Although some mistakes were made in this crowd-sourced investigation, it demonstrated the power and potential of citizen journalism during breaking news events.

The Black Lives Matter Movement (2020-present): The ongoing Black Lives Matter movement has been significantly impacted by citizen journalism. The tragic death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man who was killed by a police officer in Minneapolis in May 2020, was recorded by a bystander on her cellphone. The video quickly went viral on social media, leading to widespread protests and international attention. Since then, many individuals have continued to document and share incidents of police violence and the ensuing protests, using social media and online platforms to raise awareness and stimulate conversation about race, justice, and police reform.

FAQ – Citizen Journalism

What is Citizen Journalism?

Citizen Journalism refers to the process of ordinary individuals, or citizens, collecting, examining, and disseminating news and information on their own or in collaboration with professional journalists. This form of journalism enables private individuals to share their perspectives, stories, and opinions through various media outlets, such as social networks, blogs, and forums.

Why is Citizen Journalism important?

Citizen Journalism plays a crucial role in modern media by providing diverse viewpoints and ensuring that stories and events are not ignored, especially in instances where traditional media coverage may be limited. It also helps promote free speech, encourages political discourse, and fosters a sense of community by empowering individuals to participate in the news-making process.

What are the pros and cons of Citizen Journalism?

Pros of Citizen Journalism include increased access to information, more accurate reporting due to on-the-scene accounts, faster news circulation, and promotion of democracy. Cons of Citizen Journalism include potential inaccuracies or biases, the risk of sharing fake news, lack of proper journalistic training, and violation of ethical standards in certain cases.

What are some popular Citizen Journalism platforms?

Some popular Citizen Journalism platforms include Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Reddit, and local or global independent news websites and blogs that invite contributions from citizens. These platforms allow everyday people to share news, images, and opinions on events happening around them.

What role does Citizen Journalism play in social change?

Citizen Journalism can bring attention to issues that are often underreported or ignored by mainstream media. By raising awareness and showcasing grassroots perspectives, it can spark informed debates, mobilize communities, and lead to social change. Moreover, it helps hold authorities accountable and encourages transparency in the functioning of institutions.

Related Technology Terms

  • User-generated content
  • Grassroots reporting
  • Social media news sharing
  • Independent media
  • Crowdsourced news reporting

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