Social media and the transformation of journalism
The rise of social media has seen a rise in the prominence of citizen journalism. Not only is Twitter and Instagram a great starting point for businesses and celebrities to promote their projects/goods/services, but it has also provided users a platform with opportunity to become a journalist. By blogging, reviewing, photographing, sharing links and commenting on global issues, consumers become prosumers; where participation is its own reward (Mitew, 2014), resulting in a cyber-culture where citizen journalism is quite often merely standard behaviour and use of the Internet but also becoming a growing, deliberate practice online.
To look at the concept of citizen journalism we first must acknowledge the status and workings of traditional journalism. Axel Bruns (2009) stated mainstream journalism “offers news-as-product; a collection of easily digestible reports based on research, ready for consumption,” while citizen journalism “provides news-as-process” which entails a continuation and unfinished coverage of events and topics that encourages user participation.
Furthermore, Goode (2009) defines citizen journalism as a “range of web-based practices whereby ‘ordinary’ users engage in journalistic practices”, but also the term is used loosely and covers activities such as re-posting, linking and commenting on news information provided by professionals or news companies.
Thanks to social media sites such as Twitter, citizen journalism has been given a chance to fully develop and flourish. Johnson (2009) said with social networks, live searching and link-sharing that “Twitter has amounted to the most interesting alternative to Google’s near monopoly in searching.”
To compare Twitter to Google is actually mind-blowing, when you really consider that more often people are getting their news faster from Twitter and choose this as their news source and search engine for current issues. This information is important, because if enough people are tweeting about the same thing, it becomes ‘news’. Johnson sums this up perfectly when he says “Tweets become valuable when aggregated,” drawing a connection of individual contributions to the metaphor “a bridge of pebbles”. One tweet may seem worthless but if every person from a city writes one tweet on the same subject, it becomes a fortified bridge and a link from the cyber world to real-life issues.