Journalism as a profession has basic principles regardless of the fact that it revolves around News collecting and reporting. Currently, citizen journalism is on the rise—this refers to a wide range of activities where everyday people contribute information or commentary about news events.
For example, Bloggers get information from a newspaper article from the mainstream media and point out factual errors or bias on their blog.
At times they even load a snap shot—thanks to digital mobile phones with great megapixels—a photo of a newsworthy event or sometimes take pictures of what happened on the scene and upload them on the websites.
The question is whether citizen journalism is credible enough to be trusted.
Christopher Kayumba a Media expert and a researcher in Rwanda said that sharing news amongst peers through social networks should not be considered as journalism.
“Any citizen with access to the internet can share information.
There is a difference between sharing news and News reporting founded on Journalism principles such as actuality, truth, objectivity and other ethical principles of the profession,” Kayumba explained.
He further added that blogging and the use of new media technology can’t be considered a profession because citizen journalists are not paid for what they do.
“The fact that there are no middle men such as flitters or Editors who adhered to maintaining professional ethics, citizen journalisms is bound to cause issues,” Kayumba explained.
With the rise in technology and easy access to the internet people have set up personal home pages to share their thoughts with the rest of the world.
In traditional media outlets an editor usually assigns a story to a reporter, the reporter does the ground work and hands in a story that gets edited and published.
However, a blogger sees something happening and decides to bring it to the attention of the online public without knowing the impact it will cause.
Eugene Ruhinguka, Director of Regulation and Licensing Unit at the Rwanda Media High Council said there are no rules that have been set up to govern citizen journalists.
“At the moment users of New Media technologies such as blogs and social networks work without any regulations in Rwanda. We have set up a comparative system that will look into the situation,” Ruhinguka explained.
He added that bloggers have to be careful because they could be sued for liable.
“In cases where one’s image is tarnished, the writing can be used against them in the courts of law,” Ruhinguka emphasized.
At the end of the day, the concept that members of the public play an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing and disseminating news and information does not make them journalists.