The Press Association of Madrid (APM) organized a debate on Twitter about citizen journalism in its third “Tweet-debate” of the #Tuitsyperiodigno (#Tweetsanddignifiedjournalism) cycle put forth by the association in February 2013 with the goal of addressing various aspects of journalism.
Through its account, @apmadrid [es], the association launched a series of questions under the hashtag #pciudadano [es] (#citizenjournalism) upon which users began to reflect. As scheduled, Spanish media professionals [es] including Felipe Sahagún, Jaime Jiménez, Juan Varela, Juan Ramón Lucas, Pau Llop y Óscar Espiritusanto, fueled the discussion and responded to the participants’ doubts and comments. Some came from traditional media and others citizen media, thus providing varied perspectives.
The topic of the conference, “Citizen journalism,” and its format are of great interest to members of Global Voices and its readers. As such, the author of this post participated in the “tweet-debate” and shares a selection of messages. (A Storify of the debate can be found here [es]).
What does journalism with citizen collaboration consist of? Advantages and disadvantages?
Among the virtues of citizen journalism, users cited the coverage of events and local happenings, the proximity and general interest in the handling of information, recovering the function of anti-establishment that traditional media has lost, while, on the other hand, others felt that the lack of rigor, contextualization, depth, and contrast are flaws that, in their opinion, should be addressed by professional journalists despite the valuable information citizen journalism may provide. Some participants even questioned the term “citizen journalism” and preferred to call it “citizen collaboration.”
Is journalism with citizen collaboration a threat to the survival of traditional media?
The majority of the comments with respect to this issue pointed out that traditional media and journalism by citizens are complementary, and can and should coexist. In this sense, various tweets advised journalists not to distance themselves from citizens and keep them in mind. “Ways that traditional media can interact with citizen journalism” [es] came to illustrate this part of the debate. The following were some conclusions:
Does citizen journalism threaten the jobs of journalists?
This question generated another debate on the causes of the journalism crisis, transformations of the current media model, and possible new models. Nevertheless, some responded directly and emphatically to the posed question:
Does media produced only with citizen collaboration have credibility?
There were no unanimous responses but rather an exchange of diverse opinions, and once again a debate about the informative rigor and definition of citizen journalism: Among the supporters:
Projects that work on the basis of citizen collaboration like Global Voices, Periodismo Ciudadano [es] and Journalism 21 [es] were mentioned as examples throughout the conversation on Twitter, in addition to articles, videos [es] of conferences, and concrete examples [es] of success.
Online debates supported on social networks are a format that is expanding. They are open spaces in which users can share thoughts, and interact on different issues. Thanks to recently created tools like Storify or Tweet-Tag.com, messages sent during these types of online events are channeled and shared with a wider audience. These tools make it possible to see who participated in the exchange, how often, the messages spread, key words, and data on the audience.
One of the main advantages of online debates is that the reflection can involve large groups of citizens, put them in contact with experts with whom they would not normally interact any other way, sustain arguments supported by graphic and audiovisual material, and overcome barriers of space and time.