Citizen journalism is the concept of members of the public playing an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing and disseminating news and information. The intent of this participation is to provide independent, reliable, accurate, wide-ranging and relevant information that a democracy requires. ( Source: Wikipedia )
The advent of new technology could make people to spread their information much easier. As in the past, if you got something valuable to report to the public, you have to spread it through mass media, which generally costs a lot. General individuals therefore could not spread what they see at all. However, the internet provides a platform for the general public to publish their information, especially after the appearance of blogs, where people can post their words without much skill requirement. Moreover, the introduction of digital camera allows citizens to take photos and video clips freely and easily as well. With such technological advance, ordinary citizens could also take an active role as mass reporters., who publish the first hand fact to the public.
In fact, micro-blogging can even boost such trend, like twitter, which allows users to publish short feeds to the site and many of them use it to spread the recent happening of society. The mobile devices of internet, like iPhone, could also fuel this trend, as people could easily post the twitter feet on site.
Such phenomenon also changes society in many aspects. First of all, the emergency news could be spread more rapidly than before. Take the CCTV hotel fire as an example, the first hand source is taken by the citizen and spread it through the twitter, which the other citizen could also know the news and spread more extensively. The majority citizen would be able to know the incident 白happened before the mainstream media. In the prevalence of the main media, mass media is the only way to represent the ideas of the whole society, and if there is state interference, the mass media would be able to lie the masses easily. Sensitive information which would shake the interest of the government are not allowed for publication.
Like the riot caused by the bankruptcy of Yilishen (蚁力神), a drug company which is heavily connected to the high officials and alleged to be linked with corruption, was not allowed to be reported by the mass media. This in turn reported by citizen journalists instead, who put the relevant information on the internet.
Many civil unrest in China (Called:群体事件) would also be reported by citizen journalists in detail, but not the mass media. In fact, in other parts of the world, citizen journalists provide wider perspectives other than the mainstream ones, and the citizen could receive the ideas other than what mainstream ones could provide, which is usually biased to the government or corporations.
However, as the citizen journalism would sometimes violate the interest of the authoritarian regimes, the government could censor those blogs and mirco-blogging sites during times of sensitivity. This must be addressed as citizens’ rights of expression would be barred, and would not be beneficial to society.
At the end of the day, to report something valuable, citizen journalists could have the chance to use or quote the third party source, and there are conflicts about the ownership among the media. It is strongly advised that citizen journalists to have their reports released under the open licenses, like creative commons, so that everyone else in society could quote the articles with less legal disputes.