By Halima Imam
Journalism is an upshot of modern history and it is sculptured by the politics of the places where it works. Democracy opines that knowledge is paramount; expression should be free and that authentic information is good for society. Journalism has been driven by technology such as print, television, radio and now digital. This has birthed the internet and social media, shrinking the World into a smaller place that it currently is.
Journalism just like every other aspect of human life evolves, and it has particularly gone from the age where a journalist has to observe and report later, to one where we are all journalists. We are eyewitnesses, and we report firsthand events. Everyone is more of a ‘citizen journalist’; people have smart phones and are always connected to the internet. So, at any point, anyone can become the most important journalist in the World.
The advantage of everyone having a phone and being able to report by just pushing a button with his internet connected smart phones is that we are saturated with so much information that we can’t filter fake news from fact. People are then left on their own to filter news from noise; gullible people swallow everything that looks like news hook line and sinker without fact- checking. This makes it so hard to get those dishing out all sorts all in the name of news-they never lack spectators for their circus.
What the ‘citizen journalists’ do however is to drop all these pieces of puzzle, and when you fit them all together, there you have your news. Professional journalism is still very important because an average citizen will just give sudden news just as it drops, but they are certainly not going to investigate cartels- for example- or corrupt multi Nationals, politician’s etcetera. The lacuna mentioned above is what a real journalist would fill- digging dip with their sources and getting right to the root of the matter to find all those dirty and unpleasant secrets.
The social media is a veritable source of information these days; a blue tick on twitter or instagram makes you a verified source of information. Are all those handles really dishing out reliable news? Can we, in good faith, take their words to the bank? Well, you be the judge of that. Digital news does have its challenges, and sometimes, a journalist is right there, but might as well just be at home as sometimes, some circumstances might render her redundant: she might have no cell coverage, servers might be down, and a host of other eventualities might become bottle-necks.
The lack of access to the fire host or data feed needed to send out information instantly and promptly is a militating obstacle to any digital journalist.
Live streaming is becoming a really big piece of breaking news, and people are crazy about it. When a massive event happens, people have a window into that moment and they are sort of obsessed with that kind of journalism. The World as we know it has changed and the pandemic has made for a new normal.
People are either experiencing a lockdown in one part of the world or forced to adhere to strict social distancing on the other end. These notwithstanding, and however convoluted the situation turns out to be, people want news on the go, and with Live streaming applications, we can all be ‘Citizen Journalists’.
Halima Imam is Founder of Climate Action Team