Citizen Journalism

Global Perspectives- Volume 2

by Einar Thorsen (Volume editor) Stuart Allan (Volume editor)
©2014 Textbook XII, 406 Pages
Series: Global Crises and the Media, Volume 14


The second volume of Citizen Journalism: Global Perspectives seeks to build upon the agenda set in motion by the first volume, namely by: Offering an overview of key developments in citizen journalism since 2008, including the use of social media in crisis reporting; Providing a new set of case studies highlighting important instances of citizen reporting of crisis events in a complementary range of national contexts; Introducing new ideas, concepts and frameworks for the study of citizen journalism; Evaluating current academic and journalistic debates regarding the growing significance of citizen journalism for globalising news cultures.
This book expands on the first volume by offering new investigations of citizen journalism in the United States, United Kingdom, China, India and Iran, as well as offering fresh perspectives from national contexts around the globe, including Algeria, Columbia, Egypt, Haiti, Indonesia and West Papua, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Myanmar/Burma, New Zealand, Norway, Palestine, Puerto Rico, Russia, Singapore, Syria and Zimbabwe.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Series Editor’s Preface
  • Global crises and the media
  • Introduction
  • New agendas
  • References
  • Section One: Re-imagining Citizen Journalism
  • 1) Social Media and the Mumbai Terror Attack: The Coming of Age of Twitter
  • The eyewitness accounts of terror in MUMBAI
  • Broadcasting “terror”
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • References
  • 2) CNN’s Citizen Journalism Platform: The Ambivalent Labor of iReporting
  • Ireport according to the professionals
  • Ireport according to the ireporters
  • References
  • 3) Righting Wrongs: Citizen Journalism and Miscarriages of Justice
  • The transforming news environment and the rise of ‘citizen journalism’
  • Ian Tomlinson and citizen journalism: from ‘protester violence’ to ‘police violence’
  • ‘No realistic prospect of a conviction’: the crown prosecution service (cps) decision on ian Tomlinson
  • The mediatisation of the Tomlinson inquest
  • Conclusions
  • Notes
  • References
  • 4) “I have a voice”: The Cosmopolitan Ambivalence of Convergent Journalism
  • The performativity of ‘i have a voice’
  • Two case studies: haiti earthquake and egypt uprising
  • The Haiti Earthquake
  • The Egypt Protests
  • The ambivalence of ‘i have a voice’
  • Notes
  • References
  • 5) Before the Revolutionary Moment: The Significance of Lebanese and Egyptian Bloggers in the New Media Ecology
  • Blogospheres as alternative publics
  • Egypt and lebanon: two very different contexts
  • The top bloggers and local media
  • Blogging themes 2009–2010
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • References
  • 6) Citizen Journalism in Real Time? Live Blogging and Crisis Events
  • The changing consumption of crisis news online
  • Live blogging and citizen journalism
  • Discussion
  • Acknowledgements
  • Notes
  • References
  • Section Two: Capturing Crisis
  • 7) Tools in Their Pockets: How Personal Media Were Used During the Christchurch Earthquakes
  • Broken media
  • Expectations of transformative citizen media
  • The student volunteer army: ‘using the tools in our pockets’
  • Media of reassurance
  • Community response online
  • Community response face to face
  • Final thoughts
  • References
  • 8) Hurricane Sandy and the Adoption of Citizen Journalism Platforms
  • Documenting the storm
  • Citizen participation in news
  • Twitter content: “global” to local
  • Platform adoption is the chief driver of citizen participation
  • Platform access
  • Perceived cultural context for social media
  • Data correction among citizen journalists
  • Challenges of public data
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • References
  • 9) Live Reporting Terror: Remediating Citizen Crisis Communication
  • Researching the 22 july attacks
  • “Holy crap. did oslo just explode?”
  • “Dear god there are people shooting on utØya”
  • Live blogging terror attacks
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • References
  • 10) Eyewitness Images as a Genre of Crisis Reporting
  • Eyewitness images in the news
  • Non-professional images: concepts and definitions
  • Defining eyewitness images
  • 1. Auto-Recorded
  • 2. Subjective
  • 3. Participation and Documentation
  • 4. Media Institutional Ambiguity
  • 5. Decontextualization
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • References
  • 11) Reformulating Photojournalism: Interweaving Professional and Citizen Photo-reportage of the Boston Bombings
  • Challenging commitments
  • ‘And then we heard this explosion’
  • Recasting roles and responsibilities
  • Notes
  • References
  • 12) Citizen Journalism, Sharing, and the Ethics of Visibility
  • Reddit and findbostonbombers
  • Findbostonbombers and the limits of citizen journalism
  • Sharing the news
  • Towards an ethics of visibility
  • Conclusion
  • References
  • Section Three: Globalising Cultures of Citizen Journalism
  • 13) Citizen Journalism, Development and Social Change: Hype and Hope
  • Concepts and questions
  • Social change news in a diversified news ecology
  • Citizen journalism and collective action for social change
  • Citizen journalism and networks of social change
  • References
  • 14) A Latin American Approach to Citizen Journalism
  • The latin american approach
  • Citizen Journalism in Contexts of Armed Conflict
  • Citizen reporters diffuse violence
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • References
  • 15) Getting into the Mainstream: The Digital/Media Strategies of a Feminist Coalition in Puerto Rico
  • Theoretical framework
  • Findings
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • References
  • 16) Reporting a Revolution and Its Aftermath: When Activists Drive the News Coverage
  • An evolving journalists-source relationship
  • Media–activists collaboration
  • Reporting scaf and the egyptian revolution
  • Who is driving the coverage?
  • Notes
  • References
  • 17) Citizen Journalism in Indonesia’s Disputed Territories: Life on the New Media Frontline
  • Why truth telling matters
  • Whose truth is told?
  • The new media tipping point
  • Quality control and credibility
  • The pros and cons of web 2.0
  • Citizen journalism and the role of the media
  • No site is an island
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • References
  • 18) Civic Responsibility and Empowerment: Citizen Journalism in Russia
  • Russian media landscape
  • From online interaction to offline action
  • Citizen journalism during the 2011–2012 electoral unrest
  • Conclusion
  • References
  • 19) Beyond the Newsroom Monopolies: Citizen Journalism as the Practice of Freedom in Zimbabwe
  • A theory of citizen journalism as an alternate- subaltern space and practice
  • Kubatana blogging as citizen journalism and a practice of subaltern resistance and freedoms
  • The question of access in the emerging “fifth estate”
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • References
  • Section Four: New Crises, Alternative Agendas
  • 20) “Blade and Keyboard In Hand”: Wikileaks and/as Citizen Journalism
  • Wikileaks’ wiki roots
  • Courting the professional press: the megaleaks
  • “The world community will crowdsource”: the publication of the cable archive
  • Righting the wrongs of a “poisonous” press: citizen journalism catalyzed by wikileaks
  • Conclusion
  • References
  • 21) Beyond Journalism: The New Public Information Space
  • New threats to traditional assumptions of power
  • Failures of leadership to accept the new digital realities
  • Frank admissions of institutional vulnerabilities and the price paid
  • The fast growing evidence
  • Public disorder: embarrassments created for London’s Metropolitan Police Gold Command.
  • 11 March 2011: ineffectual public information handling after Japan’s devastating earthquake
  • April 2011: e-mobilisation of 10 million Indians in a spontaneous campaign to end corruption
  • 18 January 2012: e-mobilisation for the Stop the Online Piracy Act campaign
  • 12 January 2012 transmission: US Marines urinating on dead Taliban in Afghanistan
  • 13 January 2012: Costa Concordia disaster off Italy
  • The West Bank in the Middle East : activities of all sides under constant video scrutiny
  • Late 2012 : worker unrest in Foxconn factories in China which assemble I-Products for Apple
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • References
  • 22) The Evolution of Citizen Journalism in Crises: From Reporting to Crisis Management
  • Crisis reporting to crisis management
  • The challenge ahead
  • Notes
  • References
  • 23) Citizen Journalism in the Age of Weibo: the Shifang Environmental Protest
  • Citizen journalism in China
  • The 2012 shifang incident
  • How weibo users framed the shifang incident
  • The Government
  • Ordinary Citizens
  • Media and Celebrities
  • System
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • References
  • 24) Little Brother Is Watching: Citizen Video Journalists and Witness Narratives
  • Video and citizen journalism
  • Authority in video narrative
  • Modes of Address
  • Author Identity
  • Discourses of Witnessing
  • Cop watching: routines and narratives
  • A More Fluid Form of Address
  • Creators Seen and Unseen
  • Explicit Witnessing
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • References
  • 25) Occupy Wall Street and Social Media News Sharing after the Wake of Institutional Journalism
  • Smashing idols
  • A moment of silence
  • New practices of social media news sharing
  • Occupy panmediation
  • Notes
  • References
  • 26) The Activist as Citizen Journalist
  • Citizen journalism and citizen activists
  • Actor network theory and “super-contributors”
  • Kaleem caire: civil rights activist and facebook poster
  • Tj Mertz: progressive blogger
  • “Acts of journalism” as acts of networking
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • References
  • List of Contributors
  • Index

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Series Editor’s Preface


We live in a global age. We inhabit a world that has become radically interconnected, interdependent, and communicated in the formations and flows of the media. This same world also spawns proliferating, often interpenetrating, “global crises.”

From climate change to the war on terror, financial meltdowns to forced migrations, pandemics to world poverty, and humanitarian disasters to the denial of human rights, these and other crises represent the dark side of our globalized planet. Their origins and outcomes are not confined behind national borders and they are not best conceived through national prisms of understanding. The impacts of global crises often register across “sovereign” national territories, surrounding regions and beyond, and they can also become subject to systems of governance and forms of civil society response that are no less encompassing or transnational in scope. In today’s interdependent world, global crises cannot be regarded as exceptional or aberrant events only, erupting without rhyme or reason or dislocated from the contemporary world (dis)order. They are endemic to the contemporary global world, deeply enmeshed within it. And so too are they highly dependent on the world’s media and communication networks.

The series Global Crises and the Media sets out to examine not only the media’s role in the communication of global threats and crises but also how they ← xiii | xiv → can variously enter into their constitution, enacting them on the public stage and helping to shape their future trajectory around the world. More specifically, the volumes in this series seek to: (1) contextualize the study of global crisis reporting in relation to wider debates about the changing flows and formations of world media communication; (2) address how global crises become variously communicated and contested in both so-called “old” and “new” media around the world; (3) consider the possible impacts of global crisis reporting on public awareness, political action, and policy responses; (4) showcase the very latest research findings and discussion from leading authorities in their respective fields of inquiry; and (5) contribute to the development of positions of theory and debate that deliberately move beyond national parochialisms and/or geographically disaggregated research agendas. In these ways the specially commissioned books in the Global Crises and the Media series aim to provide a sophisticated and empirically engaged understanding of the media’s changing roles in global crises and thereby contribute to academic and public debate about some of the most significant global threats, conflicts, and contentions in the world today.

Since the publication of Citizen Journalism: Global Perspectives edited by Stuart Allan and Einar Thorsen, in 2009, the presence of citizen journalism in major events and crises around the world has continued apace. As more people become connected through social media and other self-directed forms of communication, and as increasing numbers of them seek to participate in or document the unfolding events that surround and embroil them, so increased traffic of images and ideas circumnavigate the globe. Sometimes with politically disruptive effects. Whether based on the deliberately pursued and circulated images by activists or the contingent scenes witnessed as bystanders, today’s different forms of citizen journalism increasingly enter into the mainstream news arena, helping to invigorate news formats and, sometimes, challenging elite definitions of events. Evidently there is considerably more to citizen journalism than the media industry’s preferred term of “user-generated content” (UGC). Paradoxically the inadequacies of this concept help to better illuminate citizen journalism.

UGC speaks to the media’s commoditized interest in the entertainment value of humorous and quirky family videos or even the drama and human interest of recorded unexpected events, but it doesn’t do justice to the more radical, pluralizing or mobilizing forms of communications that coalesce under the umbrella term of “citizen journalism.” Originated in the professional world of broadcasting, “user-generated content” offers a particularly stunted and proprietorial view of “its” user audience and the corporate utility of “their” generated content. With its flattened view of content, UGC also distances the different aspirations informing new ways of engaging the media and the deliberate or performative nature of communications as forms of civic or political enactment. The industry view of UGC simply loses sight of the civic richness, motivations and appeals relayed in and ← xiv | xv → through citizen journalism and offered for wider media circulation and representation—whether politically or textually conceived. The expanding rise of citizen journalism within major crises and conflicts around the world in recent years, such as the Arab Spring, mass protests against austerity and authoritarian rulers, or major disasters and bloody civil wars, all attest to these different and sometimes potent forms of political and civic enactment. They implicitly challenge the essentially technicist and politically evacuated notion of UGC that has long passed its corporate sell-by date. By contrast, “citizen journalism” notwithstanding the continuing need for further refined conceptualization and theorization signifies a more active, participatory and responsible sense of “being in the world,” one that variously enacts and brings alive a sense of civic duty or civil society in action, whether as moral witness or agent of change. In comparison to the flat corporate view of UGC, then, citizen journalism couldn’t be more different or plentiful in its meanings and progressive possibilities.

Notwithstanding earlier cynical claims, citizen journalism hasn’t become entirely co-opted and corporately trivialized or rendered historically redundant by the prevailing logics of media production and consumption. With its continuing, expansive and deep imbrication within wider processes of societal reflexivity and change, citizen journalism enters into the world and makes its mark on it. To what extent and how clearly demands close empirical analyses as well as refined typological distinctions and theoretical frameworks capable of situating its evolving forms, practices and progressive charge, especially as it enters into a world of conflicts and crises. Einar Thorsen and Stuart Allan’s Citizen Journalism: Global Perspectives Volume 2, can therefore only be welcomed. With the help of their expert contributors from different countries and regions, they make considerable headway into charting the recent sea change in citizen communications. For this, notwithstanding earlier historical precedents, is what it is—a communicative sea change. Providing up-to-the-moment analyses of citizen journalism in the world today, many based on case studies and reflecting on the institutional parameters, powered fields and progressive hopes that surround it, Citizen Journalism: Global Perspectives Volume 2 interrogates actual practices and possible impacts of citizen journalism across diverse fields of struggle and in the responses to unfolding calamitous events. As the contributors amply document, citizen journalism around the world today assumes diverse forms and gives expression to different, often interconnected, world realities. It is practiced and performed in different political contexts and through different traditions, cultures and configurations of civil society, but it is essentially alive—experientially, humanistically, often politically, and on the move. And this is so notwithstanding those authoritarian regimes that would seek to censor and crush it or those corporate interests who would shrink its significance to the corporate free lunch of incoming “UGC.”

← xv | xvi →

Animated by differing conceptions of both “citizenship” and “journalism,” and practiced under very different political regimes around the world, “citizen journalism(s)” now assert, with increasing confidence, it seems, their communicative presence and demand to be heard outside, through, and within today’s mainstream news media. Such is the academic interest in the fast-evolving world of citizen journalism and its close association or, better, close affinity with processes of global change and issues of social justice, this second volume provides many examples of the significance of citizen journalism in contemporary issues, events and crises. In the years that have passed since Allan and Thorsen published their first volume of Citizen Journalism perhaps we can also begin to detect a growing sense of accommodation by mainstream news media toward these new upstart technologies and their intrusive flows of images and ideas. No longer, it seems, are professional journalist preoccupations quite so focused on “incoming” source veracity and news material authentication, and we may even glimpse a less deferential stance toward elites than in the past based on today’s unavoidable journalist encounter with an incoming cacophony of views. The deluge of views and voices from some of the world’s crisis hotspots can conceivably broaden not narrow news agendas and source dependencies, alerting journalists to not only the events in motion but also the contending perspectives that seek to define them. This needs serious, sustained examination and theorization. As the editors declare at the outset, their volume sets out to “identify and critically assess pressing issues confronting global crisis reporting,” and they do so principally “by focusing on ordinary people’s reportorial involvement—typically improvised under daunting circumstances—in recasting its priorities within a citizen-centred ethos.” This surely is one of the most pressing and intriguing issues of citizen journalism and news reporting in the world today, of how it not only circumvents mainstream mediums to communicate directly with others but also how it becomes re-mediated in and through the accelerating and overlapping media formations and flows of the contemporary world news ecology—and contributes to changing these in the processes of its accommodation. Citizen Journalism: Global Perspectives—Volume 2 provides an excellent vantage point from which to observe, take stock and better evaluate and understand these and other trajectories of citizen journalism around the world.

Simon Cottle, Series Editor

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More than a decade has passed since an anonymous blogger posting under the pseudonym “Salam Pax” brought to the boil a simmering debate over the perceived impact of the internet on crisis reporting. This incisive form of citizen journalism—produced, it would be later revealed, by a 29-year-old architect living in middle-class suburban Baghdad—succeeded in documenting telling, frequently poignant aspects of life on the ground in the months before the US-led invasion as well as its aftermath. While sceptics questioned the authenticity of his posts, others praised the raw immediacy of his insights into the lived experiences of besieged Iraqis caught up in the grisly horrors of conflict. This proved to be “embedded” reportage of a very different order, effectively demonstrating the potential of online blogging as an alternative mode of war correspondence. As Salam would reflect afterward, “I was telling everybody who was reading the web log where the bombs fell, what happened […] what the streets looked like.” Acknowledging the risks involved made his efforts seem almost “foolish” in retrospect, he added: “it felt for me important. It is just somebody should be telling this because journalists weren’t” (cited in transcript, CNN International, 3 October 2003).

Many news organisations were acutely aware of the value such first-hand perspectives would bring to their coverage, but struggled to accept the notion that it was professionally responsible to incorporate citizens’ contributions they could not independently verify. In the case of the BBC, its first online report referring to Salam, headlined “Life in Baghdad via the web,” appeared on 25 March 2003, ← 1 | 2 → one week after the invasion commenced. “The online diary of an Iraqi man living in Baghdad is proving hugely popular with net users,” it began. “The weblog describes what it is like to live through bombing raids, the effect of the bombing on everyday life in the capital and the views of ordinary Iraqis” (BBC News, 2003). Daniel Bennett’s (2013) enquiry into the BBC’s treatment of the conflict explains how Salam’s first-person accounts were gradually incorporated into itscoverage from May onwards (The Guardian having established his identity by then), his blog providing “a way of accessing a compelling voice which might never have been heard without the communication possibilities afforded by the World Wide Web” (2013: 1). In so doing, however, the BBC was rapidly re-writing its own editorial guidelines, particularly where the use of eyewitness testimony was concerned. By July of that year, the “Baghdad Blogger,” as Salam became known, had begun appearing in a series of short documentaries broadcast on Newsnight, a programme at the forefront of BBC experiments with new media strategies. This “alliance of the amateur and the professional” broke new journalistic ground, Bennett maintains, acting as a catalyst to encourage the wider development of what soon would be called “user-generated content” (UGC) at the Corporation.

Flash-forward a decade, and the extraordinary nature of such tentative, experimental ventures have become ordinary, even routine features of daily reportage for news organisations around the globe. On 6 July 2013, for example, vital details regarding the crash landing of Asiana Flight 214 at San Francisco International Airport were being relayed by citizen witnesses almost instantly, long before major television networks assigned their own people on the ground. Similarly, while officials and aviation experts scrambled to determine the scale of the incident, ordinary individuals were already gathering fragments of this eyewitness material via social networking sites, curating it into visible evidence confirming that there was likely to be a significant number of survivors. As the story came into sharper focus, it became apparent that two of the 307 passengers—both 16 year-old Chinese students—had lost their lives, while over 180 others were left injured (several in critical condition, one of whom subsequently died a week later). The immediacy of these first-hand perspectives lent the news coverage intense news value, ensuring the story attracted international attention while still unfolding in real time.

One of the people onboard the Boeing 777 arriving from Seoul, South Korea, was Samsung executive David Eun (@Eunner), who posted a photograph to the social networking site Path he took just outside the airplane, showing passengers evacuating. “I just crash landed at SFO,” Eun wrote. “Tail ripped off. Most everyone seems fine. I’m ok. Surreal…” He then continued via his Twitter account: “Fire and rescue people all over the place. They’re evacuating the injured. Haven’t felt this way since 9/11. Trying to help people stay calm. Deep breaths …” (his Twitter handle of the airport, @flySFO, serving as a location identifier). Evidently within ← 2 | 3 → thirty seconds of the airplane’s impact on the ground, Google employee Krista Seiden had tweeted “Omg a plane just crashed at SFO on landing as I’m boarding my plane,” using her mobile phone to capture the plume of smoke in the distance. Soon after she pointed out on her blog:

The incredible thing about social media is how instant it is. Within seconds twitter was exploding with news and photos of the crash. People kept asking if this was real because none of the news channels were reporting anything yet. Yes, it was real. And yes, the news channels were reporting it, but today that actually means that anyone with a social media account and internet access is a news reporter and can break a big story. What an incredibly powerful tool we all have in our hands today! (Seiden, 2013; emphasis in original).

Recognition for Seiden’s efforts followed swiftly, summed up in one tweet by “Cory S” as “You broke the news before the News broke the news!” as well as corrections to some of her assertions (“Hearing reports the #planecrash at #SFO is an Asiana 777 in from Taipei”). Danielle Wells, similarly tweeting from an airport terminal, had observed: “Literally just witnessed a plane crash start to finish. I cannot stop crying I can’t believe this,” which she also accompanied with a twit pic of what was visible from her vantage point. Minutes later Stefanie Laine (@stefanielaine) tweeted “guys I just watched a plane crash at SFO,” then added “we were walking back from breakfast, stopped to take a picture of the runway, and a landing plane came in at a bad angle, flipped, exploded.” Meanwhile Chinese passengers were sharing their experiences on related social networks, such as SinaWeibo, QC and Xiaonei. Businessperson XuDa’s first-hand account on Weibo included vivid details, such as: “I immediately heard a loud bang in the back, and the oxygen masks dropped in the cabin. I smelled something burning and saw fire” (cited in Lu, 2013).

For television networks and online news sites hurriedly marshalling video imagery for special reports piecing the news story together, most of what could be secured by their own journalists arriving after the crash featured long-range shots of the wrecked passenger jet stranded on the runway. Appreciably more compelling in visual terms were the short clips of precipitous footage provided by citizen witnesses who happened to be near the scene at the time. Not surprisingly, then, their impromptu forms of reportage were swiftly appropriated as material from “actual non-journalistic sources,” in the words of one CNN reporter, who then added “this really is the rise of citizen journalism” (Avlon, 2013). YouTube user, Alek Yoo (sfprepper415) had recorded black smoke billowing from the airplane resting on the tarmac, its rear fuselage torn away, from where he stood in the airport terminal. On the third floor of a nearby hotel, 18-year-old Jennifer Solis—described by ABC News as an “amateur videographer” in its report—recorded the moment the emergency chutes were deployed from the exit doors, as well as the efforts of firefighters trying to dowse the fire ignited in the cabin. Having heard ← 3 | 4 → the sound of the crash, she had quickly grabbed her digital camera, later recalling: “I immediately went outside; I saw the big cloud of dirt, and I started recording immediately.” Solis said she could not believe the “surreal” scene occurring before her, remarking: “[It] was just the first time I ever experienced something like this. I usually see things like this on the news” (cited in Louie, 2013). Even more remarkable was the “amateur video” shot by “aircraft buff” Fred Hayes, who happened to be videoing airplanes landing as he walked along San Francisco Bay with his wife during a weekend visit. “When I caught the plane coming into view, everything looked fine at first until I kind of fixed my gaze on him, and I seen his nose up in the air,” Hayes told CNN. “And then I just totally locked on him. I thought he was going to take off and go up, and then he just kept going down” (cited in Smith and Hall, 2013). Hayes’ dramatic footage captured the airplane’s descent leading to the violent moment of impact with the sea wall and the ensuing carnage, thereby helping to resolve divergent views—“a maelstrom of conflicting information,” in the words of one news commentator—regarding what had actually transpired. The 40-second clip, obtained exclusively by CNN, also included the audio recording of the couple’s anguished responses as they looked on, lending an emotive sense of the personal distress they were experiencing.

The significance of these and related forms of citizen witnessing being uploaded across fluidly ad hoc collaborative networks, where the resources of sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Path, Flickr, Instagram, Tumblr and YouTube were mobilised to considerable journalistic advantage, seldom received more than passing comment in mainstream press reports. In marked contrast with the media plaudits Salam Pax received as a “celebrity blogger” a decade earlier, this blurring of reportorial boundaries may be read as being indicative of the relative extent to which “citizen journalism” has been effectively normalised where breaking news of crisis events is concerned. Remarkably, the recent decade has seen the gradual unfolding of a profound shift in public perceptions, namely that contributions of citizens who happen to be first at the scene have become so commonplace as to be almost expected (indeed, explanations for the absence of such material may well be necessary in ensuing news accounts). Citizens—be they victims, bystanders, first-responders, officials, law enforcement, combatants, activists or the like— together are actively engaging in newsmaking by crafting for their own purposes a diverse array of tools, methods and strategies to relay first-person reports, increasingly in real time as crisis events progress.

Our challenge, then, is to try to de-normalise, to make strange, the familiar tenets of these dynamics at the very moment so many of them are slowly, albeit unevenly consolidating into journalistic values, rules and conventions. It is in so doing that we invite greater self-reflexivity about the wider implications being engendered, not least for our changing conceptions of journalism’s civic responsibilities within wider participatory cultures. In keeping with the remit for the ← 4 | 5 → “ Global Crises and the Media” book series, then, this volume endeavours to identify and critically assess pressing issues confronting global crisis reporting, namely by focusing on ordinary people’s reportorial involvement—typically improvised under daunting circumstances—in recastingts priorities within a citizen-centred ethos. Crucial in this regard is the interweaving of varied inflections of both citizenship and journalism, particularly as they are inscribed, re-mediated and contested in discourses of citizen journalism striving to claim their purchase in what series editor Simon Cottle aptly calls “the increasingly complex flows and formations of today’s world news ecology.”


This second volume of Citizen Journalism: Global Perspectives seeks to build upon the agenda set in motion by the first volume by: 1) offering an overview of key developments in citizen journalism since 2008, including the use of social media in crisis reporting; 2) providing a new set of case studies highlighting important instances of citizen reporting of crisis events in a complementary range of national contexts; 3) introducing new ideas, concepts and frameworks for the study of citizen journalism; and 4) evaluating current academic and journalistic debates regarding the growing significance of citizen journalism for globalising news cultures.


XII, 406
ISBN (Hardcover)
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2013 (October)
key developments crisis reporting news cultures
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2014. 406 pp., num. fig. and tables

Biographical notes

Einar Thorsen (Volume editor) Stuart Allan (Volume editor)

Einar Thorsen is Senior Lecturer in Journalism and Communication at the Media School, Bournemouth University. Stuart Allan is Professor of Journalism and Communication in the Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies at Cardiff University.


Title: Citizen Journalism