Can Citizen Journalism Replace Ordinary Journalism?

The debate whether Citizen Journalism will take over ordinary journalism has become one of the key topics in Civil Society organisations. Non-for-Profit Organisations are taking initiative to educate ordinary citizens on the role they can play in reporting key issues pertinent to them as they happen.

It has been argued that where as ordinary/trained journalists remain “objective” in their reporting, trying to be neutral on the subjects they write about, Citizen Journalists are not neutral and they do not try to be. Why? Simply because when Citizen Journalists see something; they immediately pick a story out of it! Take an example of the Mabira protests in Uganda, bomb killing in Iraq and Afghanistan, children dying in Darfur and Northern Ugandan, plus all those shameful things happening across the universe. The media keeps covering up some issues which we citizens need to know. Think about the information we would know if we were all empowered with the skills to cover and report events as they happen! It would really be awesome as governments would come to their true senses on what is really happening on ground. I can still imagine of all the policies that would be changed to best suit our interests.

Today, WOUGNET organised a training workshop to equip it’s members with writing, reporting and journalism skills. In this training, participants will also be able to have an in-depth exposure to Web 2.0 tools. Its believed that through this, participants will be equipped with Citizen journalism skills so that they do not have to “bribe” ordinary journalists” to cover their events. In Uganda, as I have come to learn today, it is common for journalists to ask for facilitation to cover events especially for the Non-for-profit organisations. Something that not only undermines the profession of journalism but also as been termed as “bribery” in the media. The sad story is that much as these journalists receive facilitation from the organizers of these events, they still end up not publishing their event’s stories.

However, the main concern here is that if citizens take on writing and reporting issues as they see them, what will happen to the traditional print media? How credible will the stories run by Citizen Journalism be? Will the general public take these stories seriously?

My view is that perhaps Citizen Journalism can take on the covering of issues that are not fairly represented especially here in Africa. I believe that once civil society organisations can pick on this new form of journalism, the sky would be the limit! Africa needs a free open minded citizens who can use the power of reporting key issues if development is to be realised in the continent.

Just my two cents on Citizen Journalism…..

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