-UOW- BCM111-Post 2- “Do you believe citizen journalism through social media is good, bad, or a bit of both? Why? Use academic readings to justify your conclusions. In doing so, choose a country/region of the world (that is not the US, UK or Australia) and discuss how it involves citizen journalism. Is it a practice that is beneficial for that region, exposing truths and stories the traditional media doesn’t cover? Does it obscure truth and spread misinformation, muddying the waters of good journalism in the region?”
The embrace of social media as a new resource of news and information gathering justifiably so deserves the criticism it has received. As the public have both published and consumed news of some description across these platforms, it presents a significant problem, the lack of fact checking, biases, agendas and editing; not that biases and agendum is not present in mainstream media.
Social journalism has been both a in a way a blessing and a curse upon the world, perpetuated by social media. Stuart Allen expresses regarding the flaws in social journalism, “the contributions to so-called “personal Journalism,” or what some describes as “DIY [Do-It-Yourself] reporting” or “citizen-produced coverage,” appeared from diverse locations, so diverse as to make judgments about their relative accuracy difficult, if not impossible”. (Allan and Thorsen, 2009) Mainstream journalism, while often carrying its own biases and agenda- see the Murdock’s media empire favour towards a liberal government- still is governed by a code of conduct and ethics.
News stories are passed through editors, sources confirmed, and information fact checked, when there is something that is misrepresented, there are consequences, retractions are made and sometimes damages paid, one case in recent times was The Daily Telegraph slander of Geoffrey Rush settling in court. But ultimately in most cases there is accountability.
The main purpose of this “DIY reporting using social media, is to report on things that may go unreported or to show events or someone’s actions, corruption that might never be reported or as events unfold i.e., footage coming from America and the Black Lives Matter rallies/ riots. The main concern with this form of journalism is that these videos and stories are posted instantly, with no fact checking and missing context in some cases
Zhang Zhan, a 37-year-old former lawyer, a Chinese citizen journalist who was covering COVID-19 in Wuhan is now facing up to five years in jail, as her reporting was deemed, by the Chinese government as spreading false information through video, texts and other media through social media platforms like Twitter, YouTube and WeChat.”. Zhang Zhan was also accused of accepting interviews from foreign media outlets where she is said to of spread information about the outbreak and the handling of it in a malicious way.
It is cases like this where citizen journalism is need in a way, as China’s news media carefully selects what information is chosen to be reported. There is a history in China where the Chinese authorities are known to have a no tolerance policy towards activists who speak out against what information was selected or policies/ decisions made by authorities. It is reported that over the course of the pandemic three citizen journalists have disappeared; one still missing, the second claiming she was in quarantine and the third being placed under government watch.
1- Allan, S. and Thorsen, E., 2009. Citizen Journalism. 1st ed. New York, United States: Peter Lang Publishing Inc, p.24.
2- BBC News. 2020.Coronavirus: Chinese Citizen Journalist Faces Jail for Wuhan Reporting. [online] Available at: <https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-54969682> [Accessed 23 August 2020].