Civic & Citizen Journalism

Most people tend to label journalism as one category of factual writing that discusses current events and newsworthy moments. However, during Tuesday’s class we discussed the significant difference between two kinds of journalism—citizen and civic.

The lesser known of these terms is citizen journalism, where the web is used as a platform. This term can sometimes be controversial, as many people are unfamiliar with the idea of integrating ethical opinions as a way to explain facts. Not to mention, citizen journalists work for free to complete information given by other journalists, ultimately acting as correspondents. Because this type of journalism weighs heavily on public opinion and community values, commentary is most effective in local news. For example, citizen journalists played a major role during the 2004 9.1-magnitude earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia. During the time of this crisis, real-time news was broadcasted by those who were present at the scene of the disaster. Therefore, this coverage became a vital source of information to the traditional media.

On the other hand, civic journalism pertains to a group of individuals who play active roles in finding, analyzing and spreading information. Those in this position can be considered as public journalists, as the media not only works to inform the public, but to also engage citizens and generate debate. Civic journalism is likely to address people as potential participants and contributors rather than witnesses or victims. According to Jay Rosen, a media critic, writer and professor at New York University, there are five aspects to understand public journalism:

  1. An Argument—what an individual should be doing according to his/her community role
  2. An Experiment—Step outside of comfort zones and make a difference to public life
  3. A Movement—Treat journalism as an ongoing process of reformation
  4. A Debate—Conversation between the press and the people
  5. An Adventure—Have an open perspective about others’ opinions and what the future withholds
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