Feature: Is Citizen Journalism Bad?


Habeeb Adisa

Due to its broad usage and quick information distribution, social media significantly contributes to the spread of information disorders. Misinformation is false information that is shared by someone who believes it to be true. Disinformation is when a person deliberately spreads false information. Mal-information, on the other hand, is information that is grounded in fact but causes harm to an individual, group, or nation. 

Different types of information disorders exist, including satire, misleading connections, factual misrepresentation, imposter material, manipulated content, manufactured content, and memes. When discussions about citizen journalism arise a lot of people see its positive effects and try to shy away from its adverse effects.

Citizen journalism is the practice of members of the public playing an active role in collecting, reporting, and disseminating news and information. With the advent of digital technology and social media platforms, citizen journalism has become more accessible, allowing individuals to share their perspectives, eyewitness accounts, and news stories with a wider audience.

While citizen journalism can be a valuable tool for uncovering untold stories, providing alternative viewpoints, and holding those in power accountable, it also has its challenges. One of the most significant concerns is the potential for misinformation and the spread of inaccurate or misleading information, the massive use of social media has allowed for the wide ability to share. 

Social media platforms heavily rely on user-generated content, which means that anyone can post and share information, regardless of its accuracy. This openness provides an avenue for intentional spreaders of misinformation to exploit the system and disseminate false information.

Way Forward

To address the challenges of misinformation in citizen journalism, it is crucial for consumers of news to be vigilant and critically evaluate the information they encounter. Fact-checking, cross-referencing multiple sources, and looking for established, reputable news organisations can help in verifying the accuracy of the information.

However, efforts are being made by social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and other organisations to implement fact-checking mechanisms, provide clearer sourcing information, and promote media literacy to combat the spread of misinformation. Citizen journalism has the potential to enrich the media landscape, but it is important for both producers and consumers of news to be aware of the challenges posed by misinformation and to work towards promoting accurate and reliable information in the digital age.

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