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What promoted citizen journalism?
Press is comprised of monopolised islands. Either it is in private hands or under government control. People get no space in newspapers even if they have valid reasons to be heard. Even letters to the editor do not find a place in newspapers

MEDIA IN the modern age, whether print media or TV or internet, has become very assertive as the ever-growing number of democracies around the world allow freedom of expression to people. But the sad fact is that it has been monopolised either by private business or governments. The hard fact is that there is little participation of people in privately-owned media. With the advent of the printing press, the newspaper appeared first and all well-meaning eminent persons and leaders used the print medium for disseminating ideas, communicating viewpoints and expressing opinion to educate and inform the reading public.

But with the passage of time, business houses, with an eye on the great potential the medium offered to earn through advertisements, usurped it, purely for mercenary purposes, deviating thereby from the original goal. Naturally, the reporting was biased. Genuine reporting was just incidental. The Biblical saying that the road to hell is paved with good intentions became literally true here. A precious medium like newspaper has helped in exploiting credulous people through advertisements or misinformation. Today, newspapers earn so much through advertisements that they can distribute newspapers free of cost. But lest the readers should discard the newspapers and thereby ignore the advertisements, the newspapers are priced in such a manner as to dissuade the readers from discarding the newspapers. Governments too use the media to keep the people informed of their policies and achievements and propagate their ideologies to cling to power.
With TV and the internet stepping in, the scope of media has tremendously expanded. The rich who own the media enjoy monopoly on their empire. They have deprived the masses of their freedom by hiring or employing correspondents, contributors and columnists who report what is dictated to them. They hardly ever accept write-ups from the common man; they do not even bother to read them. Write-ups from only known names find place in the newspapers or TV channels or the internet. There is hardly any space devoted to readers’ letters. I have tried in vain a number of times but none of my letters was ever published. This is the fate of most letters penned by the readers. Readers have to make do with whatever is served daily and it has become a one-way affair.
Theoretically there is freedom of expression in a democracy but there is no freedom to use the unaffordable media. In newspapers, advertisements have eaten into the space meant for news, etc. As such, there is no question of making space available for citizens. There are well-read and well-informed people who have definite and precise opinion on subjects and happenings around them and would like to share them with the people. But how do they get to share their opinion with the people given these circumstances? In such a scenario, readers are fed biased opinion and news barring a few honourable exceptions. The media has obvious limitations vis-à-vis citizens’ aspirations and expectations. It may be termed as their weakness.
Citizen journalism is an offshoot of internet-enabled information and the ability to access such information globally from the comfort of one’s home. Occasionally, there may be over-enthusiasm and smugness on the part of a few editors on the rolls of websites which promote citizen journalism – they may write clumsily but mostly every contribution from writers gets published. Contribution from citizen journalists is accepted with open arms and published with application of cosmetic touch most of the time. Citizen journalism has proved a boon for internet lovers and writers. It is ever expanding and improving which is a healthy trend. It has already passed the experimental stage and is diversifying into new areas. There is no shortage of space in portals promoting citizen journalism whereas a newspaper still cannot cope with the heaps of information flowing in every passing moment. The author of an article feels overjoyed when he sees his creation in print with the likelihood of it being read by thousands of people. The number of news sites is steadily growing. All sites entertain and publish quite a large number of articles. Newspapers are slowly but steadily losing ground to citizen journalism and the newspaper owners don’t read the writing on the wall. Computer is present everywhere and most people prefer to read news, etc, on-line rather than off-line.
It is clear that media’s lack of capacity is responsible for the growth of citizen journalism. The latter is becoming stronger day by day. Newspapers must do a re-think on how long their old ways can work. Citizen journalism has some freshness about it and is loved. It is easily accessible and keeps out the newspaper vendor. Hence, it is not only because of inadequate capacity on the part of the media but also because it is the need of the hour that citizen journalism thrives and will thrive. I hope all will welcome the novel use of the technology, viz., the internet, in this context.
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