With services like Storify, Bundlr, and the already existing suite of social media platforms available to the general public, it’s apparent that the past ‘gatewatchers/gatekeeper’ era seems to be at its end and anyone wiling or finding themselves in an obligated position to become a citizen journalist already has a swathe of outlets for their information available to them. Combined with the usability of an everyday smartphone, a regular person has all they need to capture some of the most exciting, terrifying, pivotal and important moments in history. To elaborate, we can see a societal push instrumented by citizen journalists on platform like ‘change.org’, ‘care2.com’ and other similar websites champion for change, whatever it may be.
The ‘bazaar’ model is in full force here, collecting signatures, getting shared, sparking conversation and debate about issues, whereas should a traditionally authoritative, gatekeeping, ‘cathedral’ medium like a sterilized newspaper were to talk about the same issues it simply wouldn’t have the same affect. Certain issues such as global warming receive a lukewarm reception traditional media as the audience has heard the same story again and again, but if presented by a fellow civilian researcher who’s found new information not being told in the media, or can springboard off the a stupid statement made by a political official, then this information circulates much more ferociously and effectively.
News generated by civilian journalists is, to quote Axel Bruns, ‘no longer products in the traditional sense’. They are self contained, important and relevant news items that can be distributed as individual articles and not forcibly lumped with the equivalent of the rest of a newspaper attached to it.I believe that as long as the majority of citizen journalist centered sites are able to function as gatekeeper-less and independent, then the true and newsworthy information will always be able to find an outlet for consumption by other people.
To illustrate this, I point to investigative work conducted by YouTuber George Weidman’s in his video’s exploration of the bizarre situation at game publisher Konami HQ. His exposé featured testimonies from anonymous employees shedding light on the reasons for the companies seemingly suicidal moves to dismantle their reputation, and as background video, roughly 20 seconds of footage from one of the publishers games. This footage gave Konami the opportunity to claim copyright infringement, silencing the creator of the video and making sure his findings weren’t spread everywhere. Unfortunately for Konami, YouTube intervened and disputed that the footage wasn’t enough to claim infringement and reinstated the video. This strange turn of events has seen the video receive 300,000+ views so far at the time of publishing and well and truly backfired on the publisher, much to the amusement of many internet goers. The event marked one of the first times YouTube has publicly fought back against a copyright holder and stood up for ‘the little guy’. Hopefully it’s a sign of things to come! The whole kerfuffle seems eager to overshadow the ‘#gamergate’ ‘scandal’ of 2014, which was another citizen journalism revolving blowup. Here’s to that.