Thursday, July 28, 2011

Citizen Journalism in Egypt

Essentially, citizen journalism is journalism coming from a source other than professional journalists [1]. These citizen journalists are best known for utilizing modern technological tools, such as the internet, to disseminate their messages. The recent Egyptian revolution, for instance, is a prime example of citizen journalism in action, and its potentially vital place in society. One of the many things that came to characterize the uprising was the use of social media by revolutionaries to spur their cause. Websites such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube were all major players. Protests in Tahrir Square could be seen not only from the major news networks, but on YouTube from locals with camera phones. Violent acts of police were recorded and uploaded for the world to see. The Egyptian people wanted their stories and discontent to be heard, and they used the internet to ensure that they were. These Tweets and videos by Egyptian citizen journalists attracted a global audience, gaining them worldwide support.

The role of social media among protesters in the Egyptian revolution is a prime example of just how powerful citizen journalism can be. Videos and tweets by these Egyptian citizen journalists sparked worldwide attention to the discontent amongst many of the Egyptian people. Reports from citizen journalists gave people a source of news that is more personalized, evoking a more sympathetic response. It turned the Egyptian revolution into more than just news reports; the Egyptian people were communicating directly to the world, sharing their experience with us. The ability of these citizen journalists to spark change and international attention was remarkable. It shows that citizen journalism should not be brushed aside or underestimated simply because they are not a formal source of news - it can be quite influential.

[1] Hanson, Ralph E. Mass Communication: Living In A Media World. 3rd Ed. Washington: Congressional Quarterly Inc., 2011.

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