Ongoing protests and ‘riots’ have occurred in the city of Ferguson Missouri, since African-American teen Michael Brown was shot down by a white cop in August of last year. While it took almost a week for the nightly news to cover the story, citizen journalism lended its helpful hand at allowing the world to see and know what was happening well before mainstream media ever did. From the moment it took place, there is literally a timeline of social media posts that follow. These condemn the murderer, and show what actually happened in the riots and the protests. This is important, as with typical American news coverage (here’s looking at you Fox News), the bias and racist opinions that floated in through mainstream media were then overtaken by real time coverage through twitter, tumblr and Facebook. In a time like that, the fight for who could have a breaking news story was vicious.
Such is that citizen journalism became a huge part of these protests. Two people who are recognised for their part in the emergence of information during and after the shooting in Missouri are Antonio French and Emanuel Freeman. Emanuel Freeman who goes by the twitter handle @TheePharoah uploaded the photo of the cop who killed Michael Brown standing over his dead body. From this one photo, the world erupted. It was proof of what had happened, and it has started a revolution of sorts in regards to race equality in America. Antonio French is an alderman (member of a municipal assembly or council) who has been live tweeting videos and photos of the protests since they began, and has even been arrested because of it. These two credible witnesses have summed up in a way, what citizen journalism can be all about. They aren’t journalist paid to distribute information, and have done so at a risk to their own safety and freedom. They’ve helped to create awareness of what had happened, something so critical that their information has become incredibly important in the issues sprung from what happened in August 2014.
Taking this example, it is evident how important citizen journalism can be to the world. If we didn’t have access to media platforms that allowed user created news content, then we would not have images and news that have such an impact on the world. No one is saying that these people who live tweet, or upload onto youtube or reddit are legitimate journalists. As a matter of fact, I wouldn’t call myself one if I was in the position to hold an acclaim like French or Freeman have. Yet this idea of normal people able to inform and distribute key information ahead of the curve of legacy media – it is something that will continue to happen and should be accepted and even encouraged. Journalism is evolving as technology and media platforms evolve. As a society that want to involve ourselves, and participate to a degree in whats happening in the world we should always keep an open mind to other avenues of news and reports.