Citizen Journalism = Journalism

Citizen Journalism = Journalism

2011: The Arab Spring

ArabSpring

2012: The KONY Campaign (Invisible Children)

KONY

2013: The Boston Marathon Bombings

Runners continue to run towards the finish line as an explosion erupts at the finish line of the Boston Marathon

2014: The Ferguson demonstrations following the shooting of Michael Brown

Ferguson

2015: …?

These events stand as some of the most iconic news-stories of their respective years. Whilst each was covered extensively on legacy media, what connects them all is their origins as citizen journalism.

So what exactly is citizen journalism?

As you can see Jay Rosen, Journalism professor at NYU, has a simple, broad definition of citizen journalism. Rosen regards citizen journalism as the audience (i.e. people not employed to create news) using the tools at their disposal (smart phones, blogs etc.) to inform one another of current happenings. People who practice citizen journalism are therefore known as citizen journalists.

What then is the difference between regular (legacy media) journalists and citizen journalists?

The issue of authenticity is commonly cited as the differentiating factor between ‘citizen’ and ‘real’ journalists. But considering the failures of legacy journalism to present factual stories, in comparison to citizen journalism (which can be either confirmed or proven false by thousands of separate individuals), the argument that authenticity is the dividing factor seems rather baseless.

Perhaps then there is no difference between journalists and citizen journalists.Both participate in the reporting and dispersal of information to an audience. The only perceptible difference is that legacy journalists and journalism is done for profit, whereas citizen journalists usually go unpaid.

Furthermore, as citizen journalism has gained traction more and more legacy journalism organisations have begun to use material collected by citizen journalists (especially in conflict zones where organisations may be hesitant to send their journalists) and even recruit prolific citizen journalists (such as  NewJersey.com).

This is not to say that anyone who engages in an act of citizen journalism can immediately call themselves a journalist (citizen or otherwise). Just as drawing a picture does not classify you as an artist, or changing a tire classify you as a mechanic, tweeting a current event does not make you a journalist. It makes you someone who has participated in an act of journalism.

But if an individual is committed to tweeting news, to blogging current events or uploading footage for the purposes of disseminating information, then it is hard to argue why the lack of paycheck should stop them from being called a journalist.

Transmedia: A journalistic perspective

Transmedia: A journalistic perspective

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Commonly the concept of transmedia  is applied only to entertainment media.

Yet considering the term ‘media’ is for many interchangeable with the term ‘journalism’ or ‘news’, this week I’m taking a look at transmedia within the journalism industry. Check out my Prezi below for the full story

.https://prezi.com/hsdkcmzllzop/transmedia-in-journalism/#

Talking Animals: the reality is no fairytale

Talking Animals: the reality is no fairytale

What was your favourite movie as a child?

Babe? Garfield? Lady and the Tramp? Aristocats? The Jungle Book? Stuart Little? Cinderella? Lion King?

"Do you see the common motif yet Simba?"
“Do you see the common motif yet Simba?”

What’s similar between all these films is their use of talking animals as a main plot device. In some films (such as above mentioned) animals are able to speak ‘human’ languages, holding fully understandable conversations with either,

a) only their species and other animal species

or

b) their species, other animals and humans

Other children’s films, whilst not allowing the use of language per se, have animals which are clearly capable of human-like intelligence, responding non-verbally to the actions of human characters, and in turn having the human characters understand these responses. Films that portray animals thus include Tangled, Mulan, Frozen, Aladdin, Free Willy and Flipper.

Bestowing intelligent communication skills to animals is a common trope in films aimed at children. As we move through adolescence and into adulthood however, films that feature animals capable of complex communication become less and less common. Is it that we no longer find it credible that animals could be smart enough to communicate? Or do we no longer want to?

‘Talking’ animals are not as fanciful a notion as you may think however. Whilst there yet exists no non-human species capable of communicating verbally with us (an individual exception was Alex the African Grey parrot, who was capable of intelligent spoken communication – not simple mimicry) there are numerous examples of animals able to express themselves explicitly to humans. Apes are almost universally recognised of having highly developed communicative abilities. This is evidenced by their ability to learn human sign language to converse with their handlers (Koko the Gorilla is a prime example).

Accepting other species as capable of inter-species communication presents an ethical dilemma as to how we as humans treat them, particularly in regards institutions which keep animals captive. The ability to communicate is often regarded as a sign of intelligence. This makes confining animals capable of communication morally questionable. The notion that animals capable of communication may be entitled to freedom was recently highlighted by the case of Sandra the Orang-utan. After living her entire life in an Argentinian zoo, 29-year-old Sandra was last year granted “non-human personhood”, enabling her the right to live freely.

I will miss the free health care though...
I will miss the free health care though…

Acknowledging other animals as entitled to the right to freedom will no doubt maintain controversial for many years to come. But considering the human desire to fictionally portray animals as cognitive equals, it is not unreasonable to imagine a future where animals’ ability to communicate is accepted, and rights to freedom consequentially granted.