Citizen Journalism for Dummies 101

24 Apr

Are you a closet journalist?

If you are, it’s time to loose that skin and get to work because, a whole new phenomenon has arrived.

Prepare yourself by registering for an account on sites that will enhance your citizen journalism experience. My suggestion is to get yourself an account on certain popular local and international news sites, YouTube (for video uploading), Flickr or Photobucket (for photo uploading), on a blogging platform (WordPress, Blogspot, Livejournal) and a couple of social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter, Friendster) before embarking on your journey. This is to ensure that when a juicy, newsworthy story is staring you in the face, you lose no time in capturing and reporting it. I’m assuming that you are already familiar with the crucial concept of time in this industry. If you aren’t, make a tattoo of this:

Old news is stale news.

Thereafter, gather your equipment and put yourself out there! For starters, you wouldn’t need anything dramatic as yet, just a notepad, a couple of pens and a cell phone with a camera. Though of course, if you have the resources, feel free to bag your video camera, DSLR and laptop because as you equip yourself with technology, convenience accompanies.

It’s still perfectly fine to set off with the basics if you’re tight on resources, as you need to keep in mind, that even if you empty your pockets for the best equipment aid, it is not going to help you get your story out if you don’t keep your eyes and mind wide open. “The perfect image, a wickedly edited video clip or state of the art laptop is not what citizen journalism is all about nor can it replace your single, most important advantage – local knowledge.”     —

Start small; don’t be over ambitious by making a hullabaloo over a molehill. Even though there may the abundance of freedom on the Internet, it is a good idea to start with what you are most familiar with and know best. That could be your neighborhood, profession, or social networks that you belong to. Alternatively, you could start commenting on what you are most passionate about no matter where it takes place.

Unlike traditional journalism, writing as a citizen journalist is not always necessary. A video with you speaking to camera is just as effective as an article and also allows those who do not feel comfortable with the written word to produce insightful reports that can be shared with others.

Another point to note is that, it is important for you to distinguish between an opinion and a fact. More often than not, budding citizen journalists present their ideas on a story as fact and seem to assume that others will share the same view. To have your story impact readers, it is best to adopt a dispassionate stance. Otherwise, your impassionate accounts may come across as a rant and lose all credibility.

Last but not least, garner the right coverage by attracting readers’ attention through interesting contents, linking and tagging people, using RSS, posting widely and regularly, building credibility and simply being sociable!

Avoir du plaisir! (Have fun!)


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