In citizen (journalism) we trust

When I started building Bale Bengong, a Bali-based citizen journalism website in June 2007, I wasn’t really optimistic. At that time, I only thought that journalism I knew had a lot of lack or even contradictions.

Therefore, I believed that we should bring a new approach to journalism. And I think, citizen journalism is one of the answers.

After three years I see my belief is proven. Citizen journalism provides answer or at least another option to the problem of mainstream journalism—one of those is regarding the issue of newsroom independence from media owner’s interests.

My optimism rises during the course in the Radio Nederlands Training Centre (RNTC), Hilversum, Netherlands. The course by Alliance of Independent Journalist (AJI) and Neso Indonesia held in 26 April to 14 May 2010.

In fact, there is nothing new about citizen journalism. Radio has used the term since decades ago. Audience shares their stories about traffic throughout radio. And then came the era of information technology. This provides opportunity to citizen to report through Internet.

Hierarchy is gone
Oh My News is one of the pioneers in this field. This site has 50,000 citizen-reporters from around the world.

Yup, 50,000 reporters around the world! I don’t think even New York Times having such huge number of contributors.

Working with thousand contributors around the globe, ohmynews.com covers almost every aspect of human life.

Of course, citizen journalism has its own challenges. For example, many citizens don’t have sufficient skill to report and write stories as a professional journalist does. Most of them are amateurs.

However, the good thing of citizen journalism is this lack can be refined by viewer’s commentaries or editing.  This is a new way of journalism where viewers do not merely consume news but also generate and edit it. Most importantly, the hierarchy of news process is gone. [!]

Note: This article was written as assignment of new media course in Hilversum, Netherland [26 April – 14 May 2010].

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