Can citizen journalism be considered as professional journalism?

As explained in my previous post citizen journalism is becoming more and more familiar with the general public, with opening up Facebook or Twitter before they even get started with their day, they could know the breaking news of the morning before even switching on the television. However there have been many of doubts about the amount of time, and research gone into these makeshift news products, which leads to a question about accuracy and even, authenticity. As these type of journalists are not paid, or qualified in the profession, there is a huge risk of not just inaccuracy but also legal issues if pursuing these leads further.

Objectivity is a main issue with citizen journalism, this is because although journalists naturally write to the objective of their audience and their paper they still keep a respectable fairly balanced view. Public individuals could be very biased about issues of politics, racism or sexism – this leads their views to being unbalanced and could raise risk of offending many people.

Quality is the second big issue with citizen journalism. Compared with professionals, who have more money invested in their company or business, citizen journalists are not paid and The Digital Journalist states: “an amateur, will always be on the outside of those lines. Imagine the White House throwing open its gates to admit everybody with a camera phone to a presidential event. You will not see many citizen journalists wandering around the battlefields of Afghanistan. It takes a lot of money to pay for travel, the gear, the armour vests, translators and so on.”

Legal repercussions are definitely a main problem with this type of journalism. With no controls over what is said, and no company lawyer to oversee a libel, or contempt issue before it is published, this could spark a law suit. A quote from Edward Greenburg, a New York City litigator is: “There are many cases at both the state and federal levels where judges determine just who is/is not a journalist. Cases involving libel often hinge on whether the actor was or was not a member of the “press””.

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