Hardly ever out of the public’s hand, the cell phone is noticeably shifting the ways human interact with their environment and each other. To say it’s evident that our society can predict how mobile technologies change social interaction is foolish. Through everyday activities, we are regularly reminded that the cell phone is more intrusive and furthers our contact with others. There is a relatively obvious issue of human adaptation to technology in regards to identity and social norms, but the cell phone is also changing how information is accessed, shared, and addressed. What society realizes is a big picture, but daily it’s clearer how involved the cell phone is in changing our daily communications. To an extent, mobile technology effects the public’s general opinion or interest. Essentially, this allows the user to be a journalist by definition. Through the power of journalism and networking, consumers take on an unforeseen responsibility and effect the potential masses. Depending on how the user exercises this power will determine the success in public, citizen journaling.
Collette Snowden, author of As It Happens, analyzes the average user in being a journalist and what those effects are on society. Early in Snowden’s argument, she acknowledges mobile tech as being,
“so wide spread that it has disrupted the conventions governing public distribution of news and information” (Snowden, 121).
The history of journaling as a practice can be traced back to the print and manual hand-writing. First seen as a profession, journalism is now undermined and unfortunately faces challenges of credibility and ability in being a journalist.
Snowden notes that “citizen journalism,” is an act unable to be filtered or proven. A professional journalist should have facts organized and research to back up their statements or reports. Ultimately, the reader is responsible in determining whether a source be true or not, but with the ease of sharing information, the line between true and false is often blurred. China’s response to citizen’s journaling and sharing protests in 2009 was to limit communications within the country, and soon realized the force behind networking. Professional media’s response to social journalism is utilizing the people’s postings as eye-witness reports or activity. Regardless of the validity of a consumer’s postings, truthfulness does not need to be apparent.
An amateur attempt at journalism took the Internet by storm in early 2013, as a user claims to have cell-phone footage of a child being whisked away by an eagle. Although the circumstances are valid and the video is convincing, it was later announced that the video was edited and a hoax, meant to shake the web community.
Snowden’s concluding sentences aim at journalism’s role in society: to provide all, unbiased information to the user by actively searching for the truth. Juxtaposing professional and citizen journalism, there is an allowance for miscommunication through the “must share-immediately,” mindset of citizen journaling.
Although, it is important to note that this ability to share information quickly proves to have a positive impact as well. In 2010, an anonymous filmmaker won the George Polk Award, a top journalism award, for filming the results of violent protests in Iraq via cell phone. The organizer for the George Polk Award, John Darton, praises the bystander by,
“celebrat[ing] the fact that, in today’s world, a brave bystander with a cell phone camera can use video-sharing and social networking sites to deliver news” (Business Insider, 2010).
The extremely graphic video posted to Youtube (*warning: viewer discretion is advised*) is the first anonymous journalist report to win the award since it’s impetus circa 1950.
When Everyone is a Journalist by Dan Gillmor acknowledges Tennessee business man Rex Hammock and his act of citizen journalism. Through his personal blog website, Hammock reveals President Bush’s opinions on the economy even though the meeting was closed to press. Hammock’s take on the President’s views buzzed through the cyber world, impacting America’s view of our president.
Gillmor defines the goal of the journalist similarly to Snowden. He pushes on,
“help[ing] the new journalists understand and value ethics, the importance of serving the public trust, and professionalism” (Gillmor).”
In attempting to replenish the faith of professional journalism, some sites still aim at undermining the truth. Most notably, The Onion and Daily Currant are websites structured in a way that suggest fact and research, but satirize the public’s gullibility through freedom of press. Both websites offer a share option to the public. Most of the time, these articles and reports are shared by the thousands with the intention of truth and shock by the world’s actions.
The Onion’s article stating that 4 Senators were attacked by Tiger’s was shared via Facebook about 7K times. Hopefully, the shares were acted out of entertainment purposes and not truth.
Mobile sharing of news and information through a citizen journalism perspective can shape the public’s view and relationship to specific material. The professional media outlets need to stand out by offering truth in their reports, an idea that Snowden and Gillmor both heavily endorse. Ultimately, it’s up to the reader in deciding whether or not a source can be deemed “true.” By checking multiple media outlets, one can see through the blurred lines of truth in text because even our greatest news outlets (CNN, NBC, NY Times) have made mistakes in reporting false information. The ability to trust your friends and family’s information gains credibility when the wrong information is put out by even the biggest companies. Professionals and public consumers are now working together in providing up-to-date news for mass society.
Reagan, Gillian. “Anonymous Filmmakers Of Neda Video Win Top Journalism Award.”Business Insider. Business Insider, Inc, 16 Feb. 2010. Web. 06 Apr. 2014.
“When Everyone’s a Journalist .” American Journalism Review. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Apr. 2014.
Snowden, Collette. “As It Happens.” Mobile Communications Tecnology, Journalists and Breaking News. 121-133.