Why citizen journalism matters

David Silverberg – posted by Bill Reynolds, J-Source.ca |

Citizen journalism is one of the most recent media trends met with both skepticism and gratitude. Critics attack citizen journalism’s credibility while proponents applaud an experimental model adding another voice to the media conversation. But judging by the rise of online readership and the popularity of collaborative content, citizen journalism could eventually convince its critics that it can hold a viable place in the journalistic landscape, adding another layer to traditional mainstream news.

In every corner of the world, citizen journalism is blossoming, primarily on the most democratic media platform, the Web. The site I edit, DigitalJournal.com, gives citizen journalists a chance to get paid for their reportage. Vancouver’s NowPublic.com says it has reporters from over 5,000 cities. CNN’s iReport.com, modeled after YouTube, has attracted 100,000 news clips since its August 2006 launch. The Arab world’s first foray into citizen media, Jaridtak, will base all of its content on submissions from everyday Lebanese residents. And OhMyNews, the South Korean trailblazer in citizen journalism, recently launched a school focused on teaching students about user-generated content.