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Web 2 Technology and Citizen Journalism

Page history last edited by Steve Escher 12 years, 8 months ago

Web 2.0 Technology and Citizen Journalism


Citizen journalism isn't a 21st century fad driven by digital cameras and streaming technology; modern technology isn't necessary for citizen journalism. Try Thomas Paine, who printed Common Sense, an anonymous pamphlet railing against the British government, published in the 18th century. Try the famous Zapruder film, depicting the assasination of JFK in 1963. Essentially, any outlet can serve citizen journalism, as the definition isn't hindered by specific media. Here is a list of popular tools used in citizen journalism:


Types of Technology

  • Personal and Group Blogs: Since all professional news outlets are online, blogs are the ideal competitive choice for citizen journalists. Unlike the pamphlets and telegraphs of a few centuries ago, blogs can be updated instantly from the scene of a news event.  Personal blogs have an advantage over professional news as they aren't necessarily constrained by uniform formatting or editorial approval. Pre-fab blogging software such as Blogger, Wordpress and Movable Type make the updating process faster. Community blogs such as Metafilter and MnSpeak allow large groups of people to report on a news event.
  • Digital Cameras, WebCams and Camcorders: Technology such as Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo and many others allows video and photos to be uploaded quickly.  Blogging software, like Tumblr, now makes uploading videos. Cameras and camcorders can be purchased cheaply, which opens citizen journalism open to a wider audience. Streaming video also allows citizen journalists to broadcast live from a news event. Using this technology, podcasts,a collection of digital media files distrubted over the internet give citizen journalists the freedom to put together longer, more thoughful news pieces, in the same vein as 60 Minutes or Dateline.
  • Cellphones/SMS: Cellphones can take photos and videos, and quickly connect to the internet. This allows a citizen journalist to document a story if s/he doesn't have access to fancier equipment. This often allows citizen journalists access to situations from which major news corporations might be barred. SMS text messaging lets journalists connect to sources, and each other.
  • Social Networks/Web Applications: Social networks and web applications such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter allow citizen journalists to quickly update a large group of contacts. When there isn't enough time to put together a cohesive news story, networks and applications allow for short spurts of quick information.


The Function of Web 2.0 in Citizen Journalism, As Seen in the 35W Bridge Collapse

  • Generating first-person or eye-witness accounts
    • Through use of 2.0 technology such as text messages, instant messaging and instant blog updating, along with the traditional informal style of blogging, citizen journalists are able to create immediate, first-person accounts of siginifcant news events. In this way, news reads less like edited, professional reporting, and more like what one would call "human interest stories." Noah Kunin, first blogger on the scene of the 35W bridge collapse, live-blogged the event on his website, sometimes utlizing friends when he could not update the site himself.
  • Crisis communication
    • Survivors and journalists are able to quickly communicate with family and local media though text messaing and cellphone technology, in which the internet is easily accessed through the touch of a button. When Noah Kunin, first blogger at the scene of the collapse, couldn't communication directly to his blog, he enlisted the help of friend and local blogger, Aaron Landry, who he communicated with through text message and phone calls.  In this sense, web 2.0 was able to create "citizen first-responders," a term coined specifically after the 35W bridge disaster.
  • Augmenting Mainstream and Traditional Journalism by Generating Tps or Story Ideas

    Professional journalists and news reporters are now able to fish for stories through Web 2.0 technology. Local news anchor and blogger,

    • Jason DeRusha of WCCO, uses his Twitter account to find story ideas and material for his broadcasts.  He began his Twitter account on the day of the collapse. His reports from the day of the collapse were largely pulled from witnesses he found and interviewed through local blogs.


Links to Examples of Web 2.0 Technology Used During the 35W Bridge Collapse

This is not a comprehensive list, but rather a specialized list of the most accessed local resources regarding the bridge collapse.



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