Texas Press Association: Why the world needs citizen journalism more than ever before
Why the world needs citizen journalism more than ever before
If someone hadn’t filmed George Floyd’s arrest, the nationwide protests against police brutality might not have happened. The smartphone footage of the inicident quickly circled through the media. But why are citizen reports only valued when something significant happens? Millions of videos are uploaded to social media every year and newsworthy footage is captured and published daily. The question is, how can we make it benefit society?
According to Reuters Institute Digital News Report last year, 67% of news consumers watched news videos online. Moreover, video traffic on mobile continues to grow. This puts the power of mass media in the hands of every individual – we can each create, share and view newsworthy information in just a few seconds, no matter where we are.
The question is how is this power changing the face of media?
Let’s review 3 cases from 2020 when footage captured by citizens made a significant change. The arrest of George Floyd. Looking back at the turbulent year in the United States, it is impossible to talk about citizen journalism without mentioning the Black Lives Movement in 2020. George Floyd, 46, was an African American man killed during an arrest in Minneapolis on May 25th. Graphic footage of the arrest was shared on social media and sparked worldwide protests against racial police brutality. The video was captured with a smartphone by a 17-year-old teenager. Although later the body camera footage and a nearby security camera footage were released, watching the incident immediately unfold from a bystander’s point of view had an exceptionally powerful impact on the public’s reaction.
The Kyle Rittenhouse shooting in Kenosha. On August 25th , 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse shot and killed two BLM protesters with a handgun during a march. All protests inspired by the BLM movement had one distingushing feature – almost every protester marched with a smartphone in their hands. Every detail of the confrontation between Kyle Rittenhouse and protesters was filmed by multiple people. Without it, there would have been little reliable evidence as there weren’t any police officers with body cameras nor clear security camera footage.
Protests in Belarus. After a rigged election, thousands of videos from protests in Minsk and other big cities in Belarus started to circulate online. In a country where the government controls the media, citizen journalism was the only way to inform the world about these events. Despite attempts to block the internet and punish newsrooms that didn‘t comply with government orders, millions of people worldwide saw the police violence against protesters as social media became flooded with citizen footage.
What we see and how we see it matters. But without a citizen media platform, most of these video recordings will never reach big audiences, even if it is about something that the public should know.
The examples above show the power of active citizen involvement. Important stories happen all the time, whether it’s a local charity event or a personal journey against injustice. The challenge is how to empower people to stay alert and offer all of this information in one place? This is the question that a new Austin-based startup MyPoint.tv is trying to solve.
They recently launched a campaign offering $20 for 20 seconds of any newsworthy footage. Videos can be filmed with a smartphone, and the only requirement is that it has informational value. Read more about the MyPoint.tv campaign: https
Be empowered to be a citizen journalist and report the stories that the world needs to hear.