Social Networking and Citizen Journalism

I think, on the whole, social networking and citizen journalism are positive developments in the world of news.  Social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook and blog servers like WordPress and BlogSpot enable average people to share their observations and opinions about the news. Because the “news” posted on these sites cannot really be regulated, though, readers must have a certain amount of skepticism when deciding to accept something they read on Facebook (or Twitter or YouTube, etc.) as true and objectively reported. There are no standards in citizen journalism except those created by the journalists themselves. This means that while there is more freedom in the mode of expression, there is more of a risk for fabricated or exaggerated news. But I think that most users of social networking sites understand that the news they receive from these sites is created by citizen journalists, and they understand they should take it with a grain of salt. This is not to say that all citizen journalists consciously report false news, most serious bloggers probably take pains to make their posts objective as possible. Part of the beauty of social networking sites and citizen journalism is that the reader can choose which blog or Twitter she wants to follow. She can weed out those she deems inferior or unnecessary and follow those she thinks are beneficial to her knowledge of the news.

The wide availability of social networking sites has a major advantage over traditional media in that because it is unfiltered, news can be reported faster and to a wider audience (regardless of how ‘true’ the news is). Overall, though, I think social networking sites create an extremely useful meeting place for people to gather and discuss the news. These sites provide a different perspective from that of major media sources. They get the reader thinking and, probably more importantly, engaged in the news. Through these sites, readers become active participants in the dissemination and discussion of current news. Especially concerning the recent presidential election, I think social networking sites are great in getting people involved and attracting attention to things people might otherwise have overlooked. So clearly, I am in favor of social networking sites and citizen journalism. But I may be biased. It is up to you, the reader, to decide.

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