Citizen Journalism and Gatekeeping

As compare to traditional sources of communications modern tools like Internet and cell phones have made the information access much easier. People are more informative, and interactive in current era. In the modern means of communications sphere, controlled and embedded journalism which were the popular phenomenon in profession however; citizen participation in news process in has significant changed the role in contemporary journalistic practices. Therefore, public has the diverse opinion over and issues with all the multitudes as can be seen in recent Middle-East crisis. This participation not only gave an opportunity to news consumers to take an active part in ongoing happenings but also brought a vibrant change in the notion of traditional news organizations to cover an incident particularly in crisis situation.
The crisis in the Middle-East that led to the revolution in many nations including Egypt is attributed to citizen journalism i.e. social websites including facebook and twitter. The contemporary generation has equipped itself with the modern means of communication that helped them in assembling people despite the restrictions. At the same time, access to new media has been easy as compared to the traditional means of communication. The uprising situation in Middle-East that lead a way to ‘revolution’ for the nations suffering from dictatorial regimes since ages. New tools of media has played a vital role to inform and educate the masses. ‘New approaches in communication have reformed the information access for public. Youth interaction with modern gadgets and public forums like YouTube, face book, Google and twitter has completely reformed the attitude in dealing with rights and their interests’. (Roman, 2009)
“Traditional criticism of international news has dwelled on the weakness and blindspots of Anglo-American media with respect to other parts of the world. The hegemonic system of global “news flow” meant that the dominant western media covered the world from the perspective of the west and to the disadvantages of the rest, which were led to understand their own societies through the lens of the dominant powers. This unbalanced news flow model has been rendered less useful in a networked system of media and communication, which gives traditional global news organisation less gatekeeping authority.” (Allan, 2009:224)
The multi-means of communication are continuously developing and becoming easily accessible to the people. In other words the freedom of expression is becoming more and more visible day by day. There is an increase in emergence of public opinion through many activities that are of citizen journalistic in nature like taking photos, selecting and editing them and writing their captions. Also there may be forms of self-censorship among participants in citizen journalism. (Ananny & Strohecker, 2002)
Citizen journalism has changed the traditional news media to a greater extent. As traditionally, the journalists were the employee of a particular news organization, and were writing for a subscribing audienceship, the open-source journalists seek out citizens in their community to produce the news. In today’s notion, the citizen is holistic entity-the news gatherer, and a writer himself, rather than just the source like earlier times, for a particular news story. The journalist is a “shepherd” in whole phenomenon of journalism, helping out in reporting news, and at the same time making it is more dispensable to the user friendly format that is in compliance with the standards and code of conduct. (Glaser, 2004)
The concept of open-source efforts consistently to change the ‘gate-keeper’ concept that drives the journalism. In present times, editors decide what is and aren’t news based on their own, the open-source philosophy emphasises that every bit of news is having some importance to somebody, and let the public readership decide what it wants and what not. The approach is some what similar to the ‘wiki,’ an open-source platform like the one we are working on that helps define words, ideas, people, and places in a web-interface format that allows all to make their contribution. With this and with the combination of voices, the “truth” of a subject can emerge. In otherwords this is an digital version of “marketplace of ideas”. (Milton, 1986) and (Mill, 1985)
“In their multimedia study of UGC on media websites, Domingo(2008) found that news organisations in Europe and the United States are interpreting online user participation mainly as an opportunity for readers to debate current events, the core journalistic culture remains largely unchanged, as professionals retain the decision making power at each stage of the news production process”. (Allan, 2009:235)
Gatekeeping has been defined as “selecting, writing, editing, positioning, scheduling, repeating and otherwise massaging information to become news.” (Shoemaker et al., 2001:73).
“One of the most fundamental 'truths' in journalism, namely: the professional journalist is the one who determines what publics see, hear and read about the world” (Deuze, 2005: 451).
As the audience no longer needs to be passive observers online, readers increasingly can become co-creators with professionals in the news producing process. Of course, such participation on an online may exist more in potential than in practice, party as it is on two primary constraints: the extent to which users are willing to contribute, and with varying levels of richness across a continuum of participation and the extent to which news organizations are willing to “open the gates,” and with varying levels of editorial oversight across a scale of gatekeeping.(Deuze, 2003)
Besides there is a split between the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ of above mentioned ‘citizen journalism,’ the new media use has most often been referred to using the term the ‘digital divide’. The expression of ‘digital divide’ aims to signify the gap between those who have access to and use digital world including digital technologies and tools, and those who do not in this contemporary world. The subject has captured much attention in the popular in academic circles.
According to the Social Science Citation Index and the Humanities Citation Index, over 150 articles have appeared in academic journals on the topic of the ‘digital divide’. Moreover, the proportion of all internet and web related articles that deal with the ‘digital divide’ has gone up one percentage point each year in the past five years, suggesting an increasing interest in and importance of this issue in media studies. (Hargittai. E, 2004)


Ananny, M. & Strohecker, C. (2002). Sustained, Open Dialogue with Citizen Photojournalism. Paper read at Proceedings of Development by Design Conference, December 1-2, 2002, at Bangalore, India.
Allan, S. (2009). Citizen journalism: global perspectives. New York: Peter Lang publishing, Inc.
Deuze, M. (2003). The web and its journalisms: Considering the consequences of different types of newsmedia online. New Media and Society. 5 (2) p.451-457.
Shoemaker, P. J., Eichholz, M., Kim, E., and Wrigley, B. (2001). Individual and Routine Forces in Gatekeeping. Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly. 78 (2) p. 33-146.
Roman, G. (2009). New Media, New Citizens: Youth Attitudes Towards Online Civic Engagement. [online]. Available at: [Accessed on: 26-04-2011]
Glaser, M. (2004). The New Voices: Hyperlocal citizen media sites want you (to write)!. In Online Journalism Review. University of Southern California. [online]. Available at: [Accessed on: 25-05-2011]
Hargittai, E. (2004). Internet access and use in context. New Media & Society. 6 (1) p. 137-143. [online]. Available at: [Accessed on: 24-05-2011]
Mill, J. S. (1985). Himmelfarb, G. (ed.) On Liberty. London: Penguin Books, Ltd.
Milton, J. (1986). Beer, S. H. (ed.) Areopagitica and Of Education. Wheeling, Illinois: Harlan Davidson, Inc. Original edition, New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1951.


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