Should Students be Proactive Citizen Journalists?

Yes! It’s highly commendable because it encourages young people to be aware of their surroundings and to contribute something worthwhile to the community.

The cancer of our generation is apathy. Admit it or not, most of us are too busy with nonsensical use of Twitter and Facebook. We usually ‘stalk’ our crushes, blabber about the latest showbiz ‘chika,’ post selfies, play games, and the like. Although there’s nothing wrong with having fun, let us also be reminded that we are part of a large society which needs to be more united for our own good. The good of a whole is the good of an individual. That’s why we must be aware of what’s happening in our society so that we may know how we should act or react for the good of the whole, and of course, ourselves.

Other than that, we are a generation of technology freaks. With the World Wide Web accessible right before our hands, let us take advantage of this tool to do what has to be done. Smartphones, tablets and laptop are a good source of entertainment, but these gadgets can also be used for our greater benefit.

Danny Roberts’ blog Student summer blog: How students can get involved on citizen journalism platforms discussed what student citizen journalists must do. He stated that, “As a student journalist, you should have a Twitter account, a Facebook account and a blog already, and if you are looking for somewhere to publish your work even further, there are many sites that carry citizen journalism reporting as well as applications that allow you to share pictures and stream video live.” We student citizen journalists must know which platform would serve as the best propagator of our stories. A Facebook post can gain hundreds or thousands of likes and shares in less than an hour. An issue can go “trending” in a matter of minutes in Twitter. Pick the place in which many people can read your stories.

He also emphasized that citizen journalists must maintain the ethics and professionalism taken seriously by professional journalists. He cited Ravin Sampat, editor of Blottr.com, who said that there are three important factors a citizen journalist must seriously consider: “1.Facts and sticking to what you observe 2. Never altering multimedia content like photos and video to depict a different version of events 3. Avoiding hearsay.”

One reason why people, including students, must actively participate in citizen journalism is that citizen journalism has the capability to cover hyperlocal newsworthy stories which may be neglected by popular news institutions.

One good example of students becoming citizen journalists is the way UPLB’s Los Baños Times covered the series of killings and robberies in the campus that had happened between 2011 and 2012. It was stated in the Rappler news article that, “The spate of killings stunned Los Baños, particularly the UPLB community, as some of the crimes were perpetrated in their grounds and victimized their own. It also awakened the 32-year-old community publication.”

With the sense of responsibility to be the ones who must write reports to inform fellow students, student journalists of LB Times did their job very well by interviewing key people and going to the crime scenes.

Even if students are not part of their campus newspaper, they can still be citizen journalists not only for their college or university, but also for their community. With the right amount of tools and skills, they can nail the job!

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