In today’s society, the creation of user-generated content now takes place in a range of different forms online. According to Axel Bruns, these range from “widely distributed, loose and ad hoc networks of participants to more centralised sites of collaborative work”. A member of the public can write a blog, upload a video onto YouTube, update their status on Facebook, or post a photo on Instagram based on any topic or issue which they believe is newsworthy.
The concept of citizen journalism is essentially recognised as public citizens “playing an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analysing and broadcasting news and information” for others to see. The emergence of the internet and social media has had a significant impact on “social practices, the media, economic and legal frameworks, and democratic society itself” (Bruns, A 2007). As a result of the convergence of new media technology, particularly social networking and media sharing websites, citizen journalism has become much more accessible to audiences worldwide.
According to Katie Hawkins-Gaar (CNN) journalism has changed forever, “people can interact with media organisations and share their opinions, personal stories, and photos and videos of news as it happens”. The internet gave the average person the ability to broadcast information to a global audience instantaneously.
As the traditional media outlet environment is becoming much more constrained by the availability of resources and time, the rise of user-generated content online, particularly citizen journalism, can only strengthen journalism as a whole. Not only do the consumers have the opportunity to be the producers, but media outlets and networks could acquire exclusive and up-to-date content which would benefit them significantly.