Citizen journalism is important which is why we need to stop treating it like cheap news.

Scratch the shabby, outdated structure of the “closed system” (Rosen 2008) (monologic media) where information is governed by gatekeepers and content regulation. Introducing the “open system” (dialogic media) where such restrictions are obliterated! This is the land of the “press sphere“, the land where speech flows freely with never before seen content that, in some cases, is news that is as authentic as it is going to get.

The shifting structure of the internet from centralised to decentralised to distributed has had a correlation with the anamorphosis of the audience from the passive consumers to active aggregators and curators.

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Consequently, this rise of audience content regulated freedom has raised questions regarding trust towards legacy media and government bodies. This concern is expressed by Kramer in Seinfeld season 4 episode 18:

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The ongoing conflict in countries of the Middle East has produced prime examples of this.

The public beating and death of Khaled Said in 2010, coupled with the online distribution of his autopsy photo, sparked an Egyptian Revolution against the police brutality and the Mubarak regime at the time.

The Facebook page ‘We Are All Khaled Said‘ created by Wael Ghonim, instigated this revolution and network participation. ‘We Are All Khaled Said’ is a symbol of unity and change for Egyptian people, and according to Ghonim “…was a feeling. We were all of these young Egyptians who could die, and no one [would be] held accountable.” This is an example of ‘produsage’, which involves the simultaneous production and usage” (Bruns p.2 2007) of content by the audience, putting them in a position of power and control.

The Mubarak regime attempted to justify the actions of the police through false accusations of Said’s character, labelling him a “drug addict” amongst other things. Additionally, the Ministry of Interior stated that part of Said’s injuries were obtained during the autopsy process where “…forensic doctors cut away his jaw to remove the bag of marijuana.”

As a result, propaganda style art was erected to protest against the lies the government were construing about Khaled’s death.

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The growing popularity of ‘We Are All Khaled Said’ ultimately caught the attention of outsiders, including the European Union, who inquired about the nature of Said’s death. After this, actions were taken by Egyptian authorities to hold the officers accountable for their actions.

It is insane lies like this, by apparent trustworthy and prestigious institutions of society, that we should be concerned about. It goes to show that in some cases, human lives are of little importance compared to the preservation of power and corruption.

This reveals the power audiences have when they utilise “press tools” and produse to reveal the truth and ultimately stresses the crucial need for citizen journalism and user led websites, such as Facebook, today.

 

 

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