The recent earthquake in Nepal created an uproar on the social media as citizens turned to Facebook and Twitter for live updates. Hardly a minute had elapsed when people started receiving tweets on their smart phones directly from the epicenter!
Often when a groundbreaking incident goes uncovered by mainstream media due to lack of access, the power of citizen journalism is greatly felt. There are instances when the news channels helplessly run text clichés over and again in dearth of footage, while the social media teams with authentic user-generated news.
According to a 2014 report, 19.19 percent of Indian population have access to internet-a figure that is growing every year. With more and more people being exposed to the trends of new media, user’s participation in gathering and distributing news content has observed a fundamental shift. It appears as if people are not only changing their mind about where to get the news, but also who they let deliver it. Citizens have started seeking news online, especially on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, and as a result, the demand for print and broadcast media syndications have started to fade.
With the advent of social video sites like YouTube, Citizen Journalism has skyrocketed itself to a new height. Many users have even created their own web channels wherein they share news from in and around their locality. Recently, when a white tiger killed a man at Delhi zoo in its enclosure, there were no media people around to report the news. Yet the entire world was able to witness the uncensored coverage of that gory incident in the form of videos captured by some visitors in their smart phone. This is one of the countless situations where ‘social-media-powered’ citizen journalism had defied the existence of mainstream media.
Perhaps what has made social media out-perform the traditional news broadcasters is the interactivity it offers. New media is endowed with features wherein users can interact with each other through likes and comments. When people share their news on sites like Facebook and Twitter, they receive instantaneous gratification in the form of feedback obtained from other users. Citizen journalists thus feel their voice heard-a positive reinforcement that only perpetuates the trend. The interactivity of new media is one reason behind citizen journalism observing a fundamental shift in trends of news processing-a shift that seems to have positive implications in the future.