By Jessica Appleton

    ‘Citizen Journalism’ is when a member of the public writes or sends something that they think is news-worthy in a picture or video, without necessarily having professional training. They can have an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analysing and disseminating news and information.

    A lot of people confuse citizen journalism with either ‘community’ or ‘civic’ journalism, both of which are practised by professionals. ‘Collaborative journalism’ is also a different concept, where a professional journalist and a citizen journalist get together and both contribute to an article – a way to get two or more perspective’s about a piece.

    An example of citizen journalism might be when a person is strolling down the street when they come across something that is exciting or even tragic – they can snap a picture or take a video of the incident and put it online and express how they feel about it or what happened. Some believe by publishing content online they can raise awareness and hopefully help prevent certain activities or events from happening again.

    The idea of average citizens in the act of journalism has a long history in the United States. Citizen journalism was used to promote journalism that was ‘for the people’, but funding the project was too expensive so it was decided that journalism would be left to the professionals. With today’s technology however, anyone can be a journalist. An important movement is spreading across the world, and I believe that everyone should be able to express their opinion about subjects they see as newsworthy. (An Interesting titbit: it was in fact citizen journalist, Abraham Zapruder, who captured the assassination of President John F. Kennedy with a home movie camera.)

    There are few people who start out in citizen journalism and make their way to professional journalism, but one woman, Courtney C. Radsch, is fascinating. Here is a quick bio; An internationally recognised American journalist, she is an expert in social media, citizen journalism and activism. Radsch is the author of several book chapters about cyber-activism, social media and the Middle East. She was a news editor for the Daily Star (Lebanon) and she then continued her career at the New York Times which she left to pursue a Ph.D in international relations.

    There are many citizen journalist websites that cover a number of topics throughout Australia and the rest of the World. If you are interested in learning more, here are some resources I found that I really liked – I hope you enjoy them as well.

    Below is a list of tips for those who are trying to get into journalism but just don’t know where to get started.

    1. Start making contacts within the industry
      2. Explore practical experience opportunities and internships
      3. Be active on social networking sites
      4. Research news organisations you want to work for
      5. Set goals and work hard to achieve them
      6. Build an online portfolio
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    1. As a long-time journalist of the old-school variety – but one who has become an ardent “citizen journalist” – allow me to suggest that a big part of whole idea is to NOT “start making contacts within the industry”!

      And what about blogs? The platforms that offered for free are amazing and anyone can do it!

      • Great points, thanks Kenny. As we’re largely volunteer driven, perhaps we might see some of your work?

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