Citizen journalism blurs the line between traditional professional reporting and amateur content creation, allowing individuals to take an active role in shaping what issues get discussed. This type of reporting has roots in the early days of the printing press when people would share news and information with each other through pamphlets and broadsheets.
In the 20th century, citizen journalism began to take on a more organized form with the rise of alternative media outlets, such as underground newspapers and pirate radio stations. In the 21st century, citizen journalism has been further empowered by the Internet and social media. Those who take on the role of a citizen journalist need to keep several things in mind.
Be accurate in your reporting
Accuracy is absolutely essential for citizen and professional journalists alike. In the age of social media, it is all too easy for false information to spread like wildfire. Make sure you know the difference between fact and opinion. Facts are statements that can be verified, while opinions are statements that cannot be verified.
When reporting on a story, you should confirm that your facts are correct. This means double-checking your sources and making sure that you understand the story completely before reporting on it. Inaccurate reporting can damage your credibility as a journalist and may even lead to legal problems. TrueNews.Global will make it easier than ever to share the facts and the evidence that supports them.
Stay objective and seek multiple sources
Citizen journalists should remain objective in their reporting, even if it is difficult to do so. This means that they should not allow their personal beliefs to influence the stories that they write. They should also avoid using loaded language, which is language that is designed to evoke an emotional response from the reader.
Part of being objective is seeking out multiple sources when researching a story. This helps ensure you fully understand the topic and allows you to gather different perspectives, which can help provide a more well-rounded picture.
Protect your sources
If you received sensitive information from a source, handle it with care. This means keeping the sources’ identities confidential when necessary and only using the information that they have been given permission to use. If a source wants to remain anonymous, you should respect that while explaining in your reporting why they’d prefer not to be named and how they are connected to the story. If citizen journalists do not protect their sources, they may find it difficult to obtain information in the future.
At the same time, it is important to be transparent about your sources. This means avoiding conflicts of interest and remaining unbiased in your reporting. For example, if you are reporting on a local politician who is also a friend or family member, it is important to disclose this relationship so that readers can make their own judgments about your objectivity.
Avoid Libel and Defamation
Libel is a false statement that harms someone’s reputation. Defamation is any statement, whether true or false, that harms someone’s reputation. Citizen journalists must avoid making either type of statement in their reporting. If you are unsure whether something could be considered libel or defamation, it is best to err on the side of caution and not publish it.
Comply with Ethical Standards
Citizen journalists must comply with ethical standards when conducting their work. This includes not fabricating stories or engaging in any other type of journalistic misconduct, as well as respecting copyright laws – this means ensuring that all images, videos, and other content you use are properly credited and have been obtained legally.
Furthermore, citizen journalists should familiarize themselves with both their legal rights and responsibilities. Like everyone else, journalists are required to comply with all local, state and federal laws. These can vary significantly from location to location, so it is important to educate yourself regarding laws in your area. For example, some states have specific laws in regard to recording audio, video or taking photographs of someone.
Anyone can be a citizen journalist but it is important to keep the items above in mind. With responsible reporting, you can make a difference in your community and the world and TrueNews.Global is here to help. Learn more.