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Citizen Journalism The idea behind citizen journalism is that people without professional training can use of modern

technology and the Internet to create, augment or fact-check media on their own or in collaboration with others. (Glaser, 2006). To simplify it, citizen journalism allows private individuals to participate in the reporting of information. The term citizen journalism refers to a wide range of activities where people contribute information or comment about news events. (Educause, 2007). With the birth of the Internet, people gained unprecedented access to the production and dissemination of news material. Citizen Journalism encompasses content ranging from user reviews, Facebook and Twitter reactions, podcasts and even independent news organizations and websites. Citizen Journalism can be seen as mass movement responding to mainstream media's "monopoly of information" and give the power to inform to ordinary citizens (Pinlac, 2007). In a world where globalization has allowed media to be owned and controlled by a few entities with vested interests, citizen journalism serves as an alternative gateway for people to be heard, especially on issues and personalities mainstream media gave little or no attention on. The movement is definitely a new one. It can be traced to an event of the World Trade Organization in Seattle where activists decided to grabe attention by blocking the streets and having the media focused on them; however the media gave only 60 seconds of airtime and the reason behind their spectacle was not even discussed. Since then people started to realize that an alternative journalism model must be established, with the start of the Indymedia movement became the seed for other movements around the world. As these developments are happening, Internet users took the opportunity to report

on events, through bulletin boards, chat rooms and forums. However, the most striking and successful citizen journalism site came in OhMyNews, a South Korean news site for citizen journalists. With the motto "Every Citizen is a Reporter", people are encouraged to register and submit articles in the site in exchange for payment. (Kahney, 2003). It was considered to be as influential as mainstream media entities and was considered a big help for the election of Roh Yoo-Myun as president of South Korea. In the Philippines, media companies have realized the need for citizens to participate in the journalism process and stared different citizen journalism initiatives. Striking examples would be news sites such as GMA's YouScoop where online readers are encourage to upload news-worthy photos and videos, TV5's Aksyon Journalismo where citizens can comment on news items for a chance to be aired, and ABS-CBN's Citizen Patrol where people register and train to report on anomalies and other events in their communities. Broadsheets and other newspapers also started similar initiatives, such as the Philippine Daily Inquirer's Metro Citizen. (Pinlac, 2007). Citizen Journalism can be considered as a democratization of the news-making process since everyday people can have a chance to correct facts and point out biases in news articles. Supporters argue that personal experiences of people involved in the issue present a more complete picture of events from the point of view of an outsider than journalists whose coverage of the issue may be limited and skewed (EduServe, 2007). Corruption stories, human rights violations and other issues of concern to communities can be discussed on the Internet and picked up by traditional media once more people get involved in the issue. However, citizen journalism has its limitations, too. More often than not it has been vulnerable to hoaxes since the lack of a professional editorial staff makes the fllodways of

information open. Most citizen journalism organizations are accused of personal biases, a violation of the principle of objectivity journalists are trained for. The movement itself is considered a threat or a lambast to journalism as a profession, since citizen journalists think that they can report without professional training at all. Quoting Vergel Santos, chairman of Businessworld's editorial board: Journalism calls, not only for the understanding of certain skills, but the acquisition of certain skills at certain levels. So, being able to build a site and disseminate whatever information you wish to disseminate to audiences does not constitute journalism. Even though citizen journalism has its limitations and weaknesses, solutions may be applied to address these issues. One, there should be an awareness of responsibility in the use of social media sites, especially for news reporting purposes. GMA's "Think Before You Click" campaign aims to inculcate the responsibility people has everytime they express themselves on the Internet. Another point is that most of citizen journalism initiatives in the Philippines are led by tradtional news outfits in which editorial boards are influenced and censored by different interests. Independent movements for citizen journalists must be developed as an altenative to the traditional venues. Hoaxes and misinformation can also be a problem for citizen journalism to thrive. The Philippines at present currently lacks a national cyber policy that will ensure prosecution of people who pretend to be citizen journalists to spread malicious information. For OhMyNews, it requires its members to submit bank accounts for their identities to be identified. Finally, journalists should not take citizen journalism as a threat to the profession,

rather an opportunity to train ordinary citizens to participate in the news process. Trainings and seminars should be conducted in schools and communities to give aspiring citizen journalists a background on the field and how they can be effective.

References "7 Things You Should Know About Citizen Journalism." Educause Learning Initiative. November 2007. "About Indymedia." Independent Media Center. September 2011. "Citizen Journalism - What is Citizen Journalism?" September 2011. "We Media: How Americans Are Shaping the Future of News and Information." The Media Center at the American Press Institute. 2003. "What is Citizen Journalism?" Wisegeek. September 2011. Glaser, Mark. "Your guide to Citizen Journalism." Media Shift. 27 September 2006. Kahney, Leander. "Citizen Reporters Make the News." September 2011. Pinlac, Melanie. "On the rise of Citizen Journalism: Power to the People?" Antonio Zumel Center for Press Freedom. September 2011.