Behind the Lens

Nothing is missed today with the majority of people owning a smartphone. We permanently carry a device that can instantly capture any single moment. Photos and videos taken by regular people are now used through social media platforms to establish ‘news’. This participatory culture has led to user-led content creation, allowing for consumers to transform into prosumers. The public are considered ‘citizen journalists’ by sharing their footage, opinion or recounts of events through social media allowing for collective intelligence.

In 2012, Hurricane Sandy tore through America destroying everything in its path. Hundreds and thousands of people were capturing images of Sandy and her effects and posting them on Instagram. ‘This was undoubtedly one of the largest single events in Instagram’s history. Co-founder Kevin Systrom told the New York Times that users were sharing 10 photos with the #Sandy hashtag every second.

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Following this, a third-party website, Instacane was established documenting Hurricane Sandy through Instagram pictures tagged under #sandy and #hurricane. While the website is based around the specific event it displays any photo on Instagram with these tags, therefore photos such as the following were also included on the site.

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There are clearly faults in this new form of journalism, being the reason many believe ‘citizen journalists’ will not take over the professional ones. Blogger Phil Gonzalez, told the Daily Dot.

“I think we have to be conscious that Instagram will be a very important feed of news as all users are potentially journalists or photographers of things happening around them. But Instagram won’t be the news magazine of the future. News magazines will have to integrate Instagram as they did with Twitter.”

The fact that citizen journalism is free, there is no filter and no risk, allows for these new journalists to take ANY angle on a story. However, this can pose as an issue with determining fact from fiction. The idea of ‘one too many’ considers the consequences of the freedom citizen journalists have and therefore the impact on the reliability of todays news sources. Nevertheless, the audience’s role has clearly become dialogic allowing news to become instantly reported and known as it happens. With the growth of social media and technology, citizen journalism has revolutionised today’s news reporting and will continue to shape how we see the world.


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