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Media gurus discuss citizen journalism

By Nalumino Nalumino

The main stream media has been challenged not to perceive citizen journalism which is having an impact in the sector as a threat but instead embrace the concept.

Speaking during in an interview soon after presenting a paper, Citizen Journalism during the Digital Citizen Indaba Sunday at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa, a South African blogger, Nicholas Haralambous said the main stream media should be wise in the way it deals with citizen journalism because it is all about the community collecting information and distributing it back to the community.

“For example, CNN has launched Ireport.com which they get citizen journalists to video blog then they use those video blogs in opinions and in their actual news productions which’s a value way to use citizens to make their views very valid in a very big media sphere,” said Haralambous who manages a content sharing and social media playground blog, http://www.zoopy.com

Inherently, Haralambous said though the concept of citizen journalism appears to be relatively new people in Africa have been distributing information for a long time.


Proffesor Fackson Banda

He said the easiest way for Africans to be citizen journalists is get a mobile phone, down load and up load the content online because that is not only the easiest but quickest way of doing it.

Asked whether, the excessive costs of buying and maintain a cell phone as well as internet would hinder the speedy growth of citizen journalism in Africa, Nicholas said while it is true it might be the case a lot of Africa is filled with cell phone.
In South Africa the market penetration is close to 90 % and through Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya the numbers are huge people have mobile phones they are not just using them effectively and what should not be forgotten people are spending money on their phones.

“Yes it’s not cheap but people are still spending money on their phones; people need to communicate inherently so it’s just a matter of a way of getting them to communicate in a way that benefits them, their society, friends and their family. Right now they are communicating saying are you going out; are you going to drink or where are you going to drink; forget that we need to talk about proper issues on their cell phones with the communicate and get the community to rally around those topics,” he said.

Haralambous challenged main stream journalists to embrace the technology available to them to become citizen like in their reporting, transparent and use twitter as well as talk about where they are, how they are, who they are, where they are going and this is one good thing about citizen journalists.

Big Flaw of Democracy
However, he said journalists should not be citizen journalists because there is a place for journalism. Journalism, he said is the watch man and gatekeeper of society without professional and proper journalism that would be a big flaw for democracy.

He said citizens will never take the role of journalists though maybe in the “distant, distant future but right now there’s a role for journalists and they should just have features of citizen journalists, they shouldn’t become citizen journalists, main stream journalism isn’t dead.”

“Citizen Journalism I think for me is less opinionated and more emotional, it’s a reaction to a flood; it’s a reaction to a tornado; it’s a reaction to a murder. Where journalists don’t have that feeling and emotion citizens do. They feel the immediate reaction,” said Haralambous.

About 30 journalists, bloggers and scholars from different background drawn from across Africa and overseas attended the Digital Citizen Indaba.

September 9, 2008 Posted by | News, Politics, Publish | , , , , , | Leave a comment