Vision Paper- Flourish Chukwurah
By Flourish Chukwurah
May 11, 2016
According to the American Press Institute, journalism is the activity of gathering, assessing, creating and presenting news and information. In the past, “seasoned professionals” who have been trained in institutions did practiced journalism. They gathered the news, assessed it, created it and presented the information in either print or broadcast formats.
However, with the introduction of the Internet, the practice of journalism has changed and is changing significantly. At first, the Internet was an added tool for the journalist to gather and disseminate information quickly. It also broke the barriers of time and space, thereby making the world a “global village.” This looked good for the professional journalists until recent times when social media has become extremely popular.
Current situation for journalism
It’s no longer a tool for journalists, but now a platform for everybody, trained or not, to practice gathering, assessing, creating and presenting news. This has obviously changed the definition of who a journalist is. In fact, many people have predicted that in the future the broadcast news will die like newspapers.
There would be no jobs for broadcast journalists because people do not need to wait for the 9pm news anymore and they can get whatever information they want ant whatever time. Everybody that has a smartphone and Internet connection can now function as a citizen journalist.
Citizen Journalism and the Internet
I believe that there are a lot of good things about citizen journalism as a whole but there are also some negatives. A recent case is the case of the Boston bombing suspect and the Reddit user. Reddit is a social news networking service that allows community members to submit news stories.
On April 15, 2013 two bombs exploded during the Boston marathon and in less than 24 hours the picture of Sunil Tripathi had spread all over Reddit as one of the suspected bombers. Investigations later revealed that Sunil Tripathi was a 22- year- old Brown University student who had been missing for over eight weeks. On April 23rd, his body was found.
This story, amongst others, has revealed the weaknesses of putting the duty of journalism in the hands of citizens.With more and more cases like this surfacing, a level of trust people have in getting news from the Internet is beginning to decline.
My prediction is that in the nearest future, newsrooms are going to collaborate more with citizen journalists and people are going to eventually go back to watching the news on television or at least receiving news from official news organizations.
For example citizen journalists have access to the news on the spot. They are able to report the news from a place of really experiencing the situation and also expertise in whatever field they are reporting on. While local reporters/ trained journalists have the skill of vetting and verifying the information that they are given and also identifying what information will benefit the public more.
Merging both citizen journalism and traditional reporting on the same platform will make news available to the public quicker and faster and it will also make it possible for professional journalists to verify the news before it is sent out.
Collaborations like this, are already happening. Fox news and Fresco just recently signed an agreement with a company called Fresco. Fresco is a citizen journalism platform that allows people to take pictures and videos of breaking news events. The new agreement between Fresco and Fox allows people to get paid for the pictures and videos that they post and also to ensure that they are valid, the picture is only acceptable if they are taken within the radius of the event. Journalists at Fox then verify the sources of these materials before they are sent out.
CNN created the “CNN iReport” platform in 2006. It is a platform that allows people from across the world to send in their photos and videos from breaking news events, or news of any kind. Last year there were IReport stories of youths in Nepal rebuilding their country after an earthquake.
Broadcasting this on a global platform like CNN could open opportunities for the country. According to CNN, in 2012 they received 10,789 posts from across the world and out of that, 10,789 were approved to be broadcasted on CNN TV and featured on the website. CNN also divides up the stories into six categories: breaking news, original reporting, compelling imagery, personal story, commentary and in- depth story telling.
This platform makes it possible for the local newsroom to perform a supervisory role over the kind of information that circulates around the society thereby sufficing for the “public good” consciousness that citizen journalists may not have.
In summary, my vision for the broadcast journalism field is that the world of social media newsgathering and dissemination and professional journalism is going to become one. Because of the importance of fact-checking and verification, which is one of the greatest weaknesses of getting news on the internet, people are going to always need the job of a professionally trained journalist.
People may not need to sit in front of their television sets to get the news because they would be able to experience it themselves at the comfort of their homes with the help of a journalist. Journalism is definitely going to adapt the new emerging tools like virtual reality and 360 videos to make the stories more immersive.