Who is a citizen journalist, and can you be one?

Have a smart phone with a good camera? You can get a scoop if you are at the right spot at the right time. Nowadays, newspapers and TV channels encourage ordinary people to actively participate in news-making by requesting them to send reports, videos and photographs of incidents taking place where they live. This is called citizen journalism or participatory journalism. Citizens post comments on news sites and blogs, and write letters to the editor. Citizen journalists perform the important task of pointing out errors and bias in media reports. They may even land a ‘scoop’, getting to the breaking news before the media, by virtue of being on the spot at the right time! Reports featuring celebrities and politicians antics, police misbehaviour or even footage of crimes in progress, are often the result of citizen journalism. Terrorist bombings, natural disasters and major accidents have also been covered extensively by citizen journalists. Citizen journalism has been possible because of the easy availability of high-quality mobile cameras and recorders, as well as the reach of social media. Any incident is capable of going viral’ on the Internet in a matter of minutes.

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