Citizen Journalism communicates through images, sounds or words. The digital revolution of which the Internet is part, has allowed the three ways of communication to reach millions of people in an integrated way, in short periods of time.
In this context, Citizen Journalism is brought into the center of the scene facilitating the implementation of concepts such as online participation or network cooperation.
There is some kind of agreement that the origin of this kind of journalism can be found in Seattle, Washington, in1999 during the demonstrations against the annual meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO) that was held there.
The Memorial Stadium was the scene of a huge Labor Rally where 30,000 unionists were convened by the leaders of the American unions (AFL-CIO). After the meeting, 50,000 unionists took the streets of downtown Seattle to block and shutdown the WTO’s opening ceremonies at the hotels of the global leaders. These trade union activists were joined by thousands of students, environmentalists, feminist groups, peasants and farmers, social justice activists who were against the Multilateral Organizations’ policies.
By this time, Indymedia (The Independent Media Center or IMC) started participating in the dissemination of these activities and began to take its first steps in online communication establishing a global network of partners to report on various topics but from a different perspective from the one conveyed by the traditional means: citizen participation in the preparation and publication of contents. This idea grew and by 2002 there were 89 Indymedia sites covering 31 countries (and the Palestinian territories) to attain the number of 150 in 2006.
Currently, the Blog phenomenon has become widespread as well as content production by using free software.
All these transformations encouraged, in 2000 in South Korea, Oh Yeon-ho, Bachelor in Korean Literature with a Masters’ degree in Journalism from Regent University, to found OhmyNews: a digital newspaper whose motto “Every citizen is a reporter” was a clear summary of its development model on the web. OhmyNews International has been operating for ten years working as a mean, and now exists as a store of information and as a blog.
According to Terry Flew, a Professor of Media Communication and Media theorist, “there have been three critical elements to the rise of citizen journalism and social networking: open publishing, collaborative editing, and distributed content. From this point of view, Wikipedia itself is the largest and most successful citizen journalism project, with breaking news from Wikipedia editors, and stories that are updated with new facts that arise. “
Citizens’ participation in the informative area (among which the coverage of the attacks of March 11, 2004 in Madrid and July 2005 in London stand out) and, especially, in journalism has received different names depending on the time and authors attempting to define the phenomenon: Public journalism, democratic journalism, guerrilla journalism, street journalism, volunteer journalism or 3.0. In recent years, the name that best describes this phenomenon (or at least the most widespread and the one that Professors such as Dan Gillmor have claimed and argued) is citizen journalism or participatory journalism.
There are many forms of citizen journalism. From a person who takes a photograph at the right time and it becomes an important image, to people who hold an online conversation to obtain a better understanding of their community or of a particular subject. It can also arise as a mean of communication that invites citizens to participate, or as people who have blogs, video blogs or podcasts, among others.
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