The term ‘citizen journalism’ refers to public citizens ‘playing an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing and disseminating news and information’.
Citizen journalists may report and publish ‘news’ and ‘events’ long before the mainstream media (such as televised and printed news) has a chance. With the use of video cameras and most notable mobile phones, citizen journalists are able to capture a moment instantly. It is with the help of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and WordPress (amongst a whole array of others) that citizen journalists are able to publish this news to a public audience.
Social media is what makes the effectiveness of citizen journalism possible. These platforms allow ‘liking’, ‘sharing’ and ‘commenting’ tools, which make it easier for the news to be passed along to more and more people. If a friend of mine on Facebook uploads a photo of a car-crash on a road I know another friend of mine has to pass through that day I can simply share that post to inform my other friend. If it is something that is relevant to a large amount of people, or something highly controversial the post will receive more likes and shares and become extremely public.
Sometimes the news and stories that are posted by citizen journalists will vary greatly from what is published by the mainstream media. This can lead to the public doubting the media and questioning if what they are presenting if true, or if it is a mediated version of what has really occurred.
Above is a meme that I created using memegenerator.net to illustrate the public’s confusion between what is represented in mainstream media vs. social media.