Sitting in my first media studies lecture, taking in all the information and wondering how someone thought process and mouth can work so fast together. I ask my lecturer, “Why do we have politicians, why not just let people not run themselves?”, he replies “Well if you’re okay with Penny Sparrow and Matt Theunissen making policy decisions for South Africa be my guest, but I for one think people are idiots and that’s why we elect qualified people to lead this country.”
Do Journalists have a similar mindset towards citizen Journalists?
This is a really interesting topic especially since media companies are cutting staff like its nothing. 1200 members of staff at Independent Newspapers were given the boot. On the other side, eTV/eNCA is rumored to be moving to Johanesburg leaving the Cape Town staff possibly jobless.
So what is Citizen Journalism?
It’s when private individuals report information. This can be in the form of a text, picture, audio and videos.
Citizen journalism is found and viewed online and it’s for that reason that even if Mainstream media and South Africa didn’t care about citizen journalism, it would still be in their faces everyday so they’d be forced to acknowledge it at least. Also the internet has the ability for anyone to spread information that will be reached globally.
Citizen Journalism in South Africa breakout year was definitely in 2015.
#Feesmustfall had our mainstream media by the balls. Students were able to share their stories on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Whatsapp and etc. if media companies were working on other stories, they wouldn’t miss out on anything. More importantly mainstream media utilized these videos, podcasts, and pictures for their companies. But where citizen journalism really excelled was with the success of Daily Vox. People had stopped reading mainstream media coverage of #Feesmustfall as they realized it was awfully biased and analyzed from an outside perspective whereas Daily Vox, the pieces were quite personal yet well written in terms of separating emotion from their writing. Thanks to Azad Essa for teaching them these skills.
Suprisingly the only media company that thought they should try to mimic Daily Vox was Cape Argus. Who then later had in October, had students writing columns all over the newspaper.
As I’m writing this piece, It is citizen journalism that is trending worldwide – A video that was taken on Instagram of how Pretoria Girls High School treated students who challenged their code of conduct on hair. All it took was one video for the story to blow up on every social media. The twitter hashtag #stopRacismAtPretoriaGirlsHigh Tweets and tweets were flooding in from America, Nigeria and Britain.
Citizen journalists don’t usually have a third source and can possibly propaganda but they make mainstream media job much easier. There’s no need to search for stories because the stories will come to you. But Citizen Journalism in all its unnatural beauty gives a platform to stories and news that gets ignored by the mainstream media which might interest readers, a voice to the voiceless and South Africa loves a hero.