Citizens, the Floor is Yours!

Besides, the absence of free independent media may also explain this new tendency. It is also relevant to link it to the loss of trust in the classical mainstream media because of the lack or the manipulation in covering certain issues. They broadcast information to the public at large, but the news agenda setting may still be too narrow.

Citizen journalistic experiences differ from one context to the next in terms of roles and objectives, the produced contents, their formats and their quality.

In 2012, Reporters without borders* identified 30 netizen and citizen journalists killed around the world and 128 that have been imprisoned. The price they pay is extremely high, but it is because their work is about raising awareness of the social and political turmoil within their countries; the kind of stories that people in power want to keep hidden.

In Syria, for instance, 29 citizen reporters have lost their lives. Targeting them is meant to stop them from exposing the injustice on the ground. The situation is critical such that the victims of the oppression are normal citizens who don’t always belong to any professional press or media organ and whose only weapons are words and smartphones.

Who are they? And what pushes them to trade their passivity and “quiet life” for the adventurous race of journalism?

Grassroots, participatory, street or citizen journalism… The denominations are multiple but they represent the same profile: “a person who has the necessary tools to spread information, pictures and videos (smart phone, laptop, internet connection) but who does not do it within an institution for a paid salary. He uses alternative news media – mostly self-created – as a platform to spread his/her work.” Dima Khatib, journalist in Aljazeera and an Arab blogger explains that a citizen journalist can be anyone, not necessarily a person who studied or practiced journalism. They follow no code of ethics nor have a professional creed except self-imposed ones.


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