Recapturing Citizen Journalism: Processes and Patterns

  • Bruce Mutsvairo

Abstract

In today’s increasingly innovative and globalized world, it is impossible to ignore the dominance of an emerging new form of journalism characterized by rapid reporting, interminable interactivity and ubiquitous multimedia content sharing and customization. Indeed, digital technologies have had a profound effect on the way news content is perceived, produced, shared and analysed. It therefore is by no surprise that the emergence of citizen journalism has not escaped scientific scrutiny (see Allan and Thorsen, 2009; Benkler, 2006). Produced in a matter of seconds, news can be shared instantly across the world, with the supremacy of citizen-inspired content becoming an overriding feature of contemporary news production. The etymology of “citizen journalism” barely needs to be studied anymore as the term is widely used and commonly accepted. But in a world where any computer or mobile phone owner is potentially a news publisher, concerns will be raised about the long-term reliability and expediency of news and content produced by non-professional actors in a technologically deterministic and fast transforming world of journalism. It is against this background that this book uses a case-to-case analysis of citizen journalism practices, based on specific studies from sub-Saharan Africa, with a view of scrutinizing this palpable emerging force — which, thanks to the ubiquity of new media technologies, continues to gather significant momentum in Africa and beyond — and investigating positivistic claims linking technological revolution to democratic changes.

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  • Bruce Mutsvairo

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