ith an easy access to the social media and microblogging sites, majority of us chip in – either knowledgeably or innocently – in sharing the information that are of any sort and gravity.
This circumstance commonly referred as ‘Citizen Journalism’, in which every citizen engage in an act of reporting is a noble phenomenon believed to be nurtured so as to scaffold the democracy’s tongue of empowering freedom of speech. Simply put, in an environment that allows the right to speech, citizen journalism functions like a peripheral limb of a mainstream media business by opening the closed stories, bringing far close, and making the unheard heard. It cultivates the ethos of participating and involving the total citizenry which is generally failed by many mainstream media for endless motives.
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The momentum of citizen journalism is rapid and so easy to pick up. With a dawn of technological gadgets such as smartphones and video cameras, the keyboards have been more like a basement of the printing press to generate news. And as one unfurls the information on the screen of the social media, at times, it is the news which contains less meat of fact that travels at a lightning speed and goes viral. The consumers at the receiving end never bother to measure the calorie of truth it enclose but rather share the already diseased and contaminated information.
Judging by the writing ability of a person, media consumers like us, never question the reliability, validity and accuracy of the content that one posts. Unlike the trained media professionals who are bound with the standards and etiquette of reporting, citizen journalism is likely to have some dusts of falsity, inaccuracy and subjectivity. Thus, getting swayed by the citizen journalism is risky and perilous to a small nation like ours where information can hop from east to west within a heartbeat.
Under the banner of democracy and chanting the verse of freedom of speech, a lot of people with pseudonym are crafting the stories with its origin and depth of severity unknown and immeasurable. Confidential and classified materials are getting enormously exposed. Fraud, rumour and cat fishing are rampant. But as a responsible citizen, realizing what illegal offline is illegal online, we have to be media literate and diagnose the content instead of clicking like or sharing the story that is known to have even an ounce of truth. A media literate citizen would behave online as we would offline.
“I would trust citizen journalism as much as I would trust citizen surgery” – Morley Safer