Nowadays, citizen or public journalism is a widespread phenomenon in the society. It is normal to look for the latest news through the means of social media like Facebook and Twitter rather than on the news channels. Street journalism plays a huge role in collecting and spreading information over the Internet (Bowman & Willis, 2003). There are three main reasons why it has developed into the social culture of the XXI century.
First of all, this is the desire of people to express themselves or become famous. One of the examples is a Twitter user “jkrums”, who was the first to inform the society about the Hudson River accident.
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Second of all, street journalism has become so popular because of the accessibility of such recording tools as cameras and mobile phones. Additionally, the easiness of publishing information via huge amount of social resources like YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace etc. makes all this possible. (Lasica, 2003)
The third and the most important reason is inequality in the number of professional and citizen journalists. Competent reporters cannot see the future, film the unplanned accidents, or attend every place in the world. It is simply impossible. Perhaps, one-day street journalism will replace the official mass media. Nevertheless, today, this phenomenon has more cons than pros because of its disorganization and spontaneity. The proof of this is the creation of the project iReport by CNN, where regular viewers are able to write stories by themselves. As a result, instead of the successful social program, they received a lot of problems such as false information, inappropriate content, and superficial view on story writing. Moreover, it is almost impossible to make somebody responsible for the fake information spread via the Internet because of anonymity. Furthermore, one more negative side of public journalism is submitting the information, which may not be objective or competent. More often than not the writers think that their opinion is more important than the bare facts, thereby they fully change the material.
In most cases, when citizen journalists are writing an article they are not hampered by searching the reliable source of information. The disadvantage that has the worst aftermath is that some people put their lives in damage in order to film the scenes that can make them popular. Good examples are the 9/11 tragedy, demonstrations in Syria, Egypt etc. Sometimes these people put not only themselves in trouble, but also their families and friends.
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At the demonstrations against Hosni Mubarak, street journalists used Facebook and Twitter to appoint the protests and transfer the useful information until the web sites got blocked.
It should be mentioned that there are some very important advantages of the public journalism phenomenon. First of all, it is the fastest way of spreading the information around the globe. This is mostly because the modern teenagers are addicted to the social networks. Some shocking news, even fake ones, can fly around the world just in a few hours. The second reason that proves the usefulness of public journalism is that random citizens who witnessed a particular incident will not veil the facts as the news channels do. It is not a myth; it has a lot of evidence. A good example is the case of Jimmy Mubenga when the media told a completely different story to what actually was. Only thanks to some people, who were on the flight at that moment and shared the news with their friends, the world knows the truth. Finally, the main advantage of citizen journalism and simultaneously the main purpose of this phenomenon is the opportunity not only to share the news with one’s relatives and friends but also to discuss it. People can freely express their own opinion in one way or another, find support in their views and interests.
Therefore, when somebody raises the topic about the usefulness or futility of citizen journalism, nobody can be sure of the correctness of their arguments. The given phenomenon is very controversial as it has both pros and cons. However, there is no doubt that it is going to evolve into something bigger and more efficient in the future.
Nowadays, thanks to television, radio, newspapers, and the Internet, the criminal justice system is totally occupied by media (Altheide, 2009). It is a huge source of fresh and legal information, and people have become increasingly interested in crimes and criminal justice. The media is trying to give people the most dramatic and shocking information. From the very beginning, the main reason for such behavior was an attempt to draw attention to various ethical problems that had been caused by some criminal acts. People of the XXI century perceive crime in the media as the trivial and routine phenomenon. On the other hand, Hall (1981) does not accept this state of affairs, believing that crime in the news-media is affecting the behavior of people. Mostly, media has its own filters of what crimes must be shown on the television; for example, intentness of offense against the law, the ridiculousness of the situation, and, of course, the social status of the guilty person (Roshier, 1981).
It is very important to know and understand the main principles of the crime-media. During the discussion of this phenomenon, a few problems can be highlighted. One of them is that reporters are often resorting to lies while trying to make their reportages more interesting and spectacular. In fact, they just make it unreasonable and offensive. Sometimes journalists even play on audience’s feelings in their commercial reasons. Perhaps, the impact of crime-media on racial problems is the most difficult problem to solve. The big amount of criminal cases includes African Americans. Consequently, the modern community has a lot of groundless racial stereotypes.
In conclusion, it should be mentioned that media interprets crimes with wrong sense, thereby misinforming people. However, crimes have become a part of the daily routine in the modern society, and media is an essential and allowable source of information for each citizen. Thereby, social media is responsible for notifying and delivering information to the society. It becomes clear from the above mentioned that crime serves a particular purpose in the mass media. It is also important to mention that nowadays crime became a constant subject in the news, leading to the creation of some crime-news ethics and rules. Usually, it happens because the news must be spectacular and pretentious, so journalists do not over represent the information about the heightened violence in the crime.
Therefore, a lot of authors assert that the news media does not teach the public anything good concerning the nature of the crime or criminals. Nevertheless, it is probably for the best, because random citizens should not know all the horrifying details. Our world is very cruel, and social scientists must stop making attempts to share all the information about violence that takes place in the society.
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