Theory

Citizen journalism, as a form of alternative media, presents a “radical challenge to the professionalized and institutionalized practices of the mainstream media”.

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<8>According to Terry Flew, there have been three elements critical to the rise of citizen journalism: open publishing, collaborative editing, and distributed content.

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<9> Mark Glaser, a freelance journalist who frequently writes on new media issues, said in 2006:<10>The idea behind citizen journalism is that people without professional journalism training can use the tools of modern technology and the global distribution of the Internet to create, augment or fact-check media on their own or in collaboration with others. For example, you might write about a city council meeting on your blog or in an online forum. Or you could fact-check a newspaper article from the mainstream media and point out factual errors or bias on your blog. Or you might snap a digital photo of a newsworthy event happening in your town and post it online. Or you might videotape a similar event and post it on a site such as YouTube.The accessibility of online media has also enhanced the interest for journalism among youth and many websites, like "Far and Wide" a publication focusing on travel and international culture,<11> as well as WorldWeekly a news blog covering a range of topics from world politics to science,<12> are founded and run by students.In What is Participatory Journalism?,<13> J. D. Lasica classifies media for citizen journalism into the following types:Other kinds of "thin media" (mailing lists, email newsletters)The literature of citizen, alternative, and participatory journalism is most often situated in a democratic context and theorized as a response to corporate news media dominated by an economic logic. Some scholars have sought to extend the study of citizen journalism beyond the Western, developed world, including Sylvia Moretzsohn,<14> Courtney C. Radsch,<15> and Clemencia Rodríguez.<16> Radsch, for example, wrote that "Throughout the Arab world, citizen journalists have emerged as the vanguard of new social movements dedicated to promoting human rights and democratic values."<17>

"Citizen journalism" versus "grassroots media"

Some criticize the formulation of the term "citizen journalism" to describe this concept, because the word "citizen" has a conterminous relation to the nation-state. The fact that many millions of people are considered stateless and often, are without citizenship (such as refugees or immigrants without papers) limits the concept to those recognised only by governments. Additionally, the global nature of many participatory media initiatives, such as the Independent Media Center, makes talking of journalism in relation to a particular nation-state largely redundant as its production and dissemination do not recognise national boundaries. Some additional names given to the concept based on this analysis are, "grassroots media," "people"s media," or "participatory media."

Relationship to local journalism

Some major news reporting agencies, threatened by the speed with which news is reported and delivered by citizen journalism, have launched campaigns to bring in readers and financial support. For example, Bill Johnson, president of Embarcadero Media, which publishes several northern California newspapers, issued an online statement asking readers to subscribe to local newspapers in order to keep them financially solvent. Johnson put special emphasis on the critical role played by local newspapers, which, he argues, "reflect the values of the residents and businesses, challenge assumptions, and shine a light on our imperfections and aspirations."<18>
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