Citizen or participatory journalism is purely a medium for t
he people, of the people and by the people. It is a great new way of empowering people and enabling them to share their feelings freely and fearlessly. It is pro-masses journalism.
Issues that needed to be highlighted had always existed. But till some time back the only way to do this was a letter to the editor or the open page of a newspaper. With the emergence of the Internet, people started setting up their blogs to voice their opinion about many nagging issues and local problems. Many citizen journalism websites were developed which took articles and news provided by the people, one of the earliest being ‘Ohmynews a South Korean online newspaper found in 2000. The Internet ensured more readership and response.
It was in 2004, during the tsunami crisis that such type of participatory journalism gained importance and recognition. News channels were encouraging people to send the pictures and videos of the calamity. Blogs like tsunamihelp.blogspot.com
became major helplines to the people and unlike the traditional media, near to death experiences and aftermath of the disaster were extensively reported on websites like these. At that time people were responding to a need which was created by a disaster; the aching need of people to know about the extent of destruction, the number of people who were dead or injured and their names.
After tsunami crisis, this wave of citizen journalism which was empowering the citizens was carried forward by many news channels. Network 18
was the pioneer of citizen journalism in broadcast in India. They started their ‘be a citizen journalist
be the change’ campaign, which was first of its kind in Indian news that enabled people to send relevant pictures, videos, views through SMS, MMS or accessing their website ibnlive.com.
Recently IBN network gave away citizen journalism awards to salute the fearless spirits who reported many an incidents which evoked strong reformatory response from the concerned authorities. In India
online citizen journalism portals like merinews.com
also emerged which is providing the citizens an opportunity to share news and relevant pictures and videos online. From college goers to senior citizens, today anyone can become a citizen journalist. Now that’s called democratizing news!
There are many issues related to your city, college, monuments or environment, in short the real things that matter to the people. Many such issues have been tackled and many truths have been unveiled through Citizen Journalism, the major reason being, the people who report are common men/women who are free of bias and their sole aim is to resolve issues that have been long talked about.
They are bringing back the responsible journalism which was feared to be lost in the rush to increase TRPs. Citizen journalism is empowering the masses to the extent that now no institution can underestimate citizens because now they wield the power of citizen journalism in their hands.
If not all, at least some media organizations are taking pains to encourage such participatory journalism because it not only benefits the citizens by giving them a platform but also draws viewers closer to the channel, thus increasing the viewer loyalty.
As of now, citizen journalism efforts are largely restricted to the issues surrounding the metropolitan cities. We must remember that 70 per cent of Indian population is rural and many more serious issues are plaguing them. Where the effort taken by media organisations for encouraging citizen journalism is remarkable, at the same time, it has to penetrate the layers of society to the realm of underprivileged, the world
of poor. If we succeed in this mission, one day we could definitely say that India, which is the largest democracy in the world now boasts of an equally democratic news media.