Citizen Journalism,

Factual news or uneducated ramblings?

With the ubiquitous nature of smartphones and increasing access to the internet and ability to make media and create ‘news’ by individuals the question arises who/what should be trusted. Should important information only be delivered by legacy media sources (newspaper, TV, radio), should it be government provided or is a post by someone online just as valid?

With social media being a democratised approach to media publishing, that is anyone can post anything and it can be accessed widely. This leads to massive amounts of media with varying opinions publicly accessible. Unfortunately one downside to this quantity of media is publishers can be focused on getting clicks on their articles rather than creating quality content. Does this lead to ‘fake news’/content that is not properly fact checked being released to be first to post and receive clicks?

For example in 2017 TMZ saw footage of what appears to be a dog being mistreated on a movie set leading them to publish articles about it which is still live today even though it has been shown to be a large quantity of clips from different times combined to misrepresent the situation. Here is a brief article about the situation.

A quick definition of citizen journalism before we continue defined by Wall (2015) “citizen journalism is defined as news content (text, video, audio, interactives, etc.) produced by non-professionals”

So what do I think generally about citizen journalism then? Generally I think citizen journalism has had a positive influence on news and media cycles and can often been seen to hold those in power accountable especially in locations of harsh/dictator like rule. However as we approach news in general not just from citizen journalists I think it is harmful to only get your information from one source and to not question anything you are hearing. So as a piece of a wholistic news puzzle I think it is helpful but I do not think it is the be all end all of news/media.

As Al-Ghazzi (2014) talks about I think it is important to understand the context of a situation and using your own understand of the world tp provide commentary is not always helpful and does not necessarily apply across cultural contexts. Also as meikle et al. talks about the wholly encompassing nature of social media to include satire, peoples everyday activities, event organisation, businesses, jokes, news articles and more. This means its important to understand the truly anyone nature of citizen journalism and its even harder to work out an individuals motives for posting/ creating citizen journalism than organisation where they generally have some clear leanings even as they try to avoid biases in journalistic reporting.

All these things considered let’s take a quick look at how citizen journalism has played out in Malaysia. Mahamed et al. (2021) talks about eh development of a specific website for tis content in 2007 to an organisation in 2011 to support and provide opportunity for proved reputable citizen journalists to now the new generation and their use of these pathways to express opinions and feel more engaged in impacting their future.

Citizen journalism in Malaysia has been shown to bring more diverse issues to the attention of media who often didn’t look to far outside their normal realms of discuss previously and has been a good additive to traditional media discourse as talked about here.

I think Malaysia is a good example of great citizen journalism using the tools available to citizens well to add to the wholistic picture of news in Malaysia.


Graham Meikle and Sherman Young – From Broadcast to Social Media (ch. 3 in Media Convergence: Networked Digital Media in Everyday Life, Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 59-78)

Wall, M 2015, ‘Citizen Journalism: A retrospective on what we know, an agenda for what we don’t’, Digital journalism, vol. 3, no. 6, pp. 797–813.

Al-Ghazzi, O 2014, ‘“Citizen Journalism” in the Syrian Uprising: Problematizing Western Narratives in a Local Context’, Communication theory, vol. 24, no. 4, pp. 435–454. COPY CITATION TO CLIPBOARD

MAHAMED, M., OMAR, S. and KRAUSS, S. (2021) “Understanding Citizen Journalism from the Perspective of Young Journalists in Malaysia”, Utopía y Praxis Latinoamericana, 26(Esp.1), pp. 133-144. Available at:

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