Citizen journalism is where the public play an active role in the collecting and distribution of news material on a global scale. With today’s technology the ordinary man/woman on the street has the capacity to reach a global audience. I would argue that the one of the first citizen journalists can be traced back to 1963 with the assassination of the USA President, John F. Kennedy. That momentous event was captured by Abraham Zapruder on a home movie camera. It has led to much debate even to this day as to the the ethics, truth/fake news, and the subsequent broadcast of a murder. In a certain sense citizen journalist has existed long before this in the letters to the editor columns in daily newspapers where ordinary man/woman can write in and express their views on topics. However with the internet and the various platforms the rise of the citizen journalist has been fast forwarded to a new stature and meaning. The rise of interactive and online media has opened up a whole new world. Many of these can be seen in the form of Blogging, user generated material, YouTube, Facebook, Comments, activism, texting, video, twitter etc.
Although i consider the Zapruder tapes to be major influence it the construct of the citizen journalist there is no doubt that the impact of the terrible tragedy of 9/11, in New York City, had on news and the dissemination of the content created by the public.
The impact that 9/11 had on the World Trade Centre in New York City and the other two planes that were hijacked on that fateful day had allowed for a media frenzy that was unprecidented up to this point. The digital age was relatively in its infancy stage at that time compared to now but it changed the whole dynamic of media reporting and in effect created the new citizen journalist as we know today. The unbelievable and tragic events that happened and were unfolding live on the screens across the world on the main news media TV channels. The people on the ground who witnessed this events were able to capture on the their own mobile phones with images and video content. News channels were asking for this footage to be email into them for broadcast on the main channels as well as their websites.
The attack on the Twin Towers was so spectacular in the centre of one of the most populated and affluent areas in the western world and with so many tourists with digital cameras the event was not only well recorded but distributed at a speed around the world that truly made it a global village as Malcolm McLucan once wrote in his seminal book ” The medium is the message”.