Introducing our Citizen Journalism theme

Access to social media and the dissemination of mass market media production tools, such as camera phones, have made it easier than ever for people outside the media professions to get involved in the production and circulation of a wide variety of media content. The rise of social media and other Web 2.0 technologies has created routes for videos, images and words produced by ordinary citizens to reach large audiences without having to rely on promotion by traditional media (although republication by traditional media certainly boosts audiences for this kind of content). ‘Citizen journalism’ has become a widely-used label for the activities of people who are not media professionals in sourcing, creating and publishing all kinds of media content, from videos and images of news-worthy events to commentary and analysis via blogs and social media sites. Many human rights and advocacy groups have joined forces with citizen journalists, encouraging them to document abuses in order to frustrate censorship and expose state repression. Some researchers too, are turning to “crowd-powered” evidence gathering, soliciting public contributions to research projects directly, and combing through social media content in order to source data on events which they would otherwise be unable to study.

The SMKE Citizen Journalism theme will investigate the following questions:

  • What is citizen journalism?
  • What can researchers learn through participating in or studying citizen journalism activities?

We will bring together journalists, human rights practitioners and researchers to explore common challenges key issues, such as:

  • Sourcing data (including questions of consent and reuse of data from social media)
  • Verification of data
  • Challenges of “real-time” reporting

The strand’s activities will be focussed on participants working together to acquire and develop and skills in sourcing data and turning it into different forms of social media content in order to gain deeper insights into the challenges of writing for different audiences and the differences between academic writing and writing for advocacy. The workshops will facilitate the exchange of ideas about questions of attribution, informed consent and other ethical issues between journalists, human rights practitioners and researchers.

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