Covid-19:The Impetus to Citizen Journalism

Before discussing the impetus, let us first discuss the meaning of the two important terms here which are ; Covid-19 and Citizen Journalism. According to a circular issued by the government of India this is the definition. It is the infectious disease which is caused due to a newly discovered Corona virus. The first case of the disease was discovered in Wuhan city of China.

The symptoms of the disease include:

  • Aches and pains
  • Congestion in the nose
  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Diarrohea

As of now, there is no cure for the disease. Most countries are still finding a vaccine in order to cure the disease.
According to WHO, 3.53 lac people died due to this disease (as of 28 May 2020, 1100 hrs IST).
According to a report by Bangkok “the collection and dissemination of information by the general public especially by the means of the internet”.

Incidents of Citizen journalism

One of the earliest incidents of Citizen journalism could be the Arab Spring of 2010. It began in Tunisia, a small nation in the Northern part of Africa. The traditional media was state-controlled. The people took to social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. To spread information regarding the revolution, it was taking place in their country. The movement spread to several countries in Africa and the Arab world. A massive revolution began to throw away the dictators in these countries.

Another example of how citizen journalism could change the world was that of Occupy Wall Street in 2011. A couple of blogs and posts on social media ignited a revolution against the economic inequality in the United States. These show that now in order to make news, you do not need to be a member of the press. A smartphone is all that you need. Gone are the days when one could find news only through the newspapers and TV channels.

Today, any person who wishes to express an opinion or bring public awareness to a particular issue can do so using just their smartphones thanks to social media and cheaper internet costs. Most of the news today breaks on social media and the internet before it makes its way to the television news or news channels.

Prominent news establishments now are also making their way for citizen journalism, changing the landscape of news, which was once “monologue” to “dialogue”. For instance- Bennett and Coleman Company Ltd, which owns The Times of India newspaper and Times Now news channel, has introduced an app for citizen journalism wherein any person, who wishes to bring concern to any civic issue can do so using the app.

Problems that Brought New Issues

Presently, the lock-down has also brought other issues with itself. These include the migrant labor issue which refers to the laborers who belong from other states being stuck in other states, social distancing being violated among others.
A lot of these are often missed out by the traditional media and citizen journalism provides a platform for these topics.
A lot of times, the traditional news outlets get their news from the social media platforms which is a possible indicator that a single post or a video has the potential to create important news.Each person today can call himself or herself a journalist.

However, this new rise in information comes with another challenge which is credibility. With the rise of information givers, it is tough to distinguish between people who carry credibility and who don’t. A traditional news outlet has credibility attached to itself and believes that a particular news undergoes several checks before it is given to the people. Another concern that comes up with citizen journalism is its revenue model.

The traditional media houses are able to earn their revenue through advertising and subscription-based models and the citizen journalism does not see any kind of scope in the future. Hence, we need to discuss and plan regarding how citizen journalism has to go forward and how this process of democratization of communication can take place better.

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