Citizen Journalism is the collection, dissemination, and analysis of news and information by the general public, especially by the means of the internet. For the past five years or so citizen journalists have become very important. Not only to the Judicial system, but helping to empower the local community. These new era journalists are able to simply record current events live, and post them to social media. They help bring justice to the forefront in some cases, or to prove the innocence of some accused persons..
One main problem in the United States that has become very publicized due to citizen journalism is police brutality. I believe citizen journalism is legitimate and should continue to grow because without it, the stories of Philando Castile and Eric Garner would never have been told. I also believe that citizen journalists should be better protected under the law.
Police Brutality: Philando Castile
Citizen journalism was an essential piece in the story of Philando Castile. Castile was an unarmed black male who was fatally shot by the police. He was murdered during a traffic stop in his car, while his four-year-old daughter and the mother of his child were present. He went to reach for his identification warning officers that he was legally carrying a handgun. Thankfully, the mother of his child had begun to record the traffic stop via Facebook live.
As the video progressed the officer shot him 3-5 times. One of the officers began to repeatedly yell vulgar language in the background. My point to the reason citizen journalism is legitimate is because this was a live incident of how African Americans are treated every day by the police.
The fact of this woman recording brought awareness not only to the local community, but it swept the nation. It even caught the attention of former President Obama. He went on to state “ change has been too slow, and we have to have a greater sense of urgency about this.” This story would have been swept under the rug by the justice department, just like the stories were before citizen journalism was discovered.
Police Brutality: Eric Garner
The story of Eric Garner’s death stands out proves once again that citizen journalism is legitimate. Garner’s death was captured on tape by a man named Ramsy Orta. Garner was selling untaxed cigarettes on a street in Staten Island. He was then wrestled to the ground by officers and strangled to death by one of them.
Hero Ramsy Orta
Ramsy Orta filmed the incident which brought nationwide attention and lead to a spark in the Black Lives Matter movement. This could have also been another story that would be swept under the rug or told by officials that this was a black male who was aggressive and armed leading to the justification of police murdering him.
Even with the evidence provided by citizen journalism, it still took officials four years to bring the responsible officer to justice. Imagine if there had not been citizen journalism in this case. The citizen journalists are able to bring an authentic version of the event to life and spread it to the masses. There are always three sides to a story and the truth lays somewhere in between both versions.
Citizen Journalism should also be better protected because after Orta’s evidence went viral and caught the attention of the masses he was then targeted by the police. The police were accused of harassing Orta, as well as unlawfully arresting him. Although it took four years to bring justice, justice was still brought due to the simple fact a local citizen journalist recorded it.
Citizen Journalism is legitimate and it should be protected at all costs. Citizen Journalism has allowed communities to join forces for the best. It has allowed a spark in the Black Lives Matter movement. It also helped bring reform to the police departments and the justice system. Citizen journalism should be protected and continue to grow nationwide.