Jay Rosen is a media critic, a writer, and a professor of journalism at New York University. He is one of the earliest advocates and supporters of citizen journalism.
A clear example of citizen journalism is the coverage of the Arab Springs. According to Global Voices, an international community of bloggers who report on blogs and citizen media around the world, founded by J. Nathan Matias, the number of tweets in relation to the protests, riots, and events that happened in Egypt over the years had a massive spike each time. In January 2011, the Egyptian government blocked the use of Internet in response to the demonstrators’ use of social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter to organize mass rallies. This not only cut off the communication among ordinary Egyptians, but also blocked the world’s coverage of the events that are happening within. John Scott-Railton, a graduate student at the University of California, Los Angeles, was the one who set out to gather updates from different neighborhoods and posting them on his Twitter account, @Jan25voices, named for the day the protests began. Over the 24 hour discourse of Internet blackout, he used landlines as an alternative for information gathering. He, is one of a host of bloggers and tweeters that are in many cases, doing as much as professional journalists to deliver news that the Egyptian government struggled to contain.
According to The Uptake, an online non-profit news organization that began with a few simple ideas: the media should find and tell the truth without fear or favor; that citizens have the tools to report and explain events without relying on news controlled by large corporations; and that it is the duty of citizens to hold power accountable and to make government transparent to the governed.
The digital evolution of media platforms has driven the people to participate in news reporting in some way or another. Widening the viewpoint from traditional media gatekeepers to the person on the street has revolutionized information access, flow and interpretation. It is all because of citizen journalism, where some major events are covered thoroughly by the people. Social media, independent reporters, and technological innovation holds the power to the upbringing of a world of journalism that is free to all – without a veil of deception, without sugarcoated news, and without manipulation.
For further extensive reading, read The Rhythms of News Storytelling on Twitter: Coverage of the January 25th Egyptian uprising on Twitter and Watching from Afar: Media Consumption Patterns Around the Arab Spring
Also read, Meg’s post.