Are you a citizen journalist without even realising?

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A man passes a major road accident and takes a picture on his iPhone and posts it on Facebook. Within the hour he has 30 likes and 12 comments. This is a prime example of how the lightning fast networks of social media have become the latest news sources and traditional news platforms are trying to catch up.

The concept behind citizen journalism is that public citizens play and active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analysing, and disseminating news and information. Citizen journalism is a specific form of both citizen media and user generated content.

The internet has given citizens the most powerful ability, to create content and to publish that content on a global platform for free. It has turned passive users into active participants and consequently created a participatory culture which allows for collaborative intelligence.

New media technology, such as social networking and media-sharing websites, in addition to the increasing presence of mobile phones, have made citizen journalism more accessible to people worldwide. Due to the availability of technology, citizens can often report breaking news more quickly than traditional media reporters and at a much cheaper cost. This freedom and accessibility does give rise to issues though. The most common doubt is the question surrounding reliability and credibility as anyone can publish anything despite having a lack of evidence.

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