THE PRACTICE OF CITIZEN JOURNALISM: EFFECTS ON MAIN STREAM JOURNALISM
|JOURNALISM AND MASS COMMUNICATION
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During the Boko Haram insurgency attacks in Cameroon’s northern region and during the Anglophone crisis, citizen journalism became increasingly popular. Amateur journalists began creating and disseminating unconfirmed news as a result of the repeated attacks.
The goal of this study was to examine the extent to which Citizen Journalism has affected the practice of mainstream journalism in Cameroon. Specifically, the study examines the effects of citizen journalism on main stream journalism in Cameroon; identify the difficulties professional journalists face in Cameroon.
The mixed research method was used in this study that is quantitative and qualitative method. 37 (62.7%) journalists averred that citizen journalists have made them to have less respect for journalism ethics.
Findings show that citizen journalists have some detrimental impacts on mainstream journalists. Citizen journalists have a negative effect on the confidence that professionals have placed in the public.
Citizens’ journalists appear to believe more than professional journalists because Citizens’ journalists supply them with raw, untreated facts. This information is applauded by the public more than by the information provided by journalists.
Further, because professionals take the time to investigate, treat and publish, the public can simply switch to citizens who give them with knowledge which is not immediately available.
Different environments for citizen journalism have contributed to the debate over who citizen journalists are and what citizen journalism is.
Some suggest citizen journalists are unpaid variants on professional journalists who nevertheless follow the rules of the road (“semi-professional amateurs”),
while others assert that citizen journalists are those who don’t have the time to fully report the news, and who lack the technical abilities or knowledge to produce a coherent story (Bock, 2012; Kim &Lowrey, 2015; Nicey, 2016; Allan, 2015).
Scholars remind us that those citizen journalists are often ordinary people who happen to be present when extraordinary events take place and thus are simply “accidental” bystanders (Harrison, 2010, p. 245)
According to some scholars, the first attempts at journalism by non-professionals were made in the 1960s. “For example, the roots of the popular music press in the United Kingdom and the United States lie not in professional journalism but in the amateur underground press of the late 1960s” (Atton 2008: 270).
While it was an antidote to commercial music or perhaps the roots of popular music press, we cannot say that it was the same as today’s citizen journalism that reports critical topics with foreign implications. All has improved since the advent of The Internet and the World Wide Web.
In its present shape, citizen journalism was created in the 80ies. It’s been running pretty fast since the 1980s. Creation of Fido News in 1984 was one of the first major efforts to gather material close to that of today’s citizen journalism. “
Fido News was an open online newsletter for the grassroots dial-up board called FidoNet” (Sterling 2009: 298).
Although, citizen journalism was being practiced in Cameroon before the Anglophone crisis, it can be ascertain that the practice of citizen journalism has being on the rise since 2016 in Cameroon as a result of the Anglophone crisis.
In reality, the phenomenon of fake news as it is experienced nowadays in Cameroon and worldwide rose to prominence since the Brexit referendum and Trump’s 2016 campaign (Bennett and Livingston 2018).
Wasserman and Madrid-Morales (2019: 109) argue that “in African journalism studies, pioneering work in South Africa has identified the use of social media platforms (e.g. Twitter) as tools to spread political misinformation.”
However, scholarship on fake news points to the fact that fake news might also emanate from mainstream media (Benkler, Faris, and Roberts 2018; Carlson 2018; Wahutu 2019a).
This research therefore seeks to find out the how citizens journalism has influenced the way mainstream media operate in Buea Cameroon.
The practice of citizen journalism in Cameroon became popular during the Boko Haram insurgency attacks in the northern part of Cameroon. As a result of these numerous attacks, amateur journalists started writing and publishing unverified content.
However, the Anglophone crisis in the North West and Southwest regions of Cameroon can be said to be one of the reasons that accounts for an increase in the practice of citizen journalism in Cameroon. \
As a results of this crisis, so many untrained persons have created social media platforms and are disseminating information as citizen journalists, both home and abroad. Some of them especially abroad have huge following e.g. Akoson Pauline Diale (28,626+ followers), Capo Daniel (19,877+ followers), Mark Bareta (184,386+ followers)etc.
Apparently, many people now seek for news through unconventional channels run by citizen journalists who break the news without necessarily going through the rigorous process of treatment before disseminating.
This poses a big challenge to the main stream media which is losing both consumers and advertisers and is force to put up a strong competition to cope. This research therefore seeks to find out the various challenges posed by the practice of citizen journalism on the main stream media in Cameroon.
- To what extent has Citizen Journalism affected the practice of mainstream journalism in Cameroon
- What are the effects of citizen journalism on main stream journalism in Cameroon
- What are the difficulties professional journalists faced in Cameroon as a result of an increase in the number of unskilled citizen journalists
- What recommendation can be made to solve this issues
The goal of this study is to examine the extent to which Citizen Journalism has affected the practice of mainstream journalism in Cameroon
The specific objectives of this study are:
- To examine the effects of citizen journalism on main stream journalism in Cameroon
- To identify the difficulties professional journalists face in Cameroon
- To proposed recommendations to solve some of these difficulties