31 Jan 2008
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“Citizen Journalism” or Participatory Journalism is an evolving form of journalism through user generated content. When any common man in his capacity as a citizen of a nation takes up the initiative to report things or express his views about happenings around him then the occurrence is popularly termed as citizen journalism or participatory journalism.
Citizen Journalists are not bound by the conventional term of a journalist. Citizen journalists take up an initiative to express ideas irrespective of their educational or professional background. In a way this emerging form of journalism is promising a scenario of breaking free from media bias as well as taking local news on a global platform.
INDIA HAS NUMEROUS News Channels but very few of them have invested heavily into recruiting and training journalists. Generally one journalist is stationed in the capital of a state. Some of India’s states are bigger than many countries of the world, so the journalist stationed in the state capital can just cover the press briefings and any major incident that occurs around the state capital. But the citizen media is changing all this.
Recently, news from far-flung areas is also being shown as it happens. This has had a major impact on the government and action has started in the right earnest on their account. Those channels that have broken most stories, have garnered massive viewership and suddenly advertisers are rushing to them and distribution networks are competing with each other to bring them on their platform. This has all happened due to the phenomenon called Citizen Journalism’, that has swept India lately. The Right to Information and Citizen Journalism have given power to the people in the true sense. Participatory journalism is today’s buzz, where citizen reporters contribute in the mainstream media to bring those news items, which are important from the common man’s perspective.
Bhagalpur is a small town in the state of Bihar. A Citizen Journalist captured, in his camera, how a man accused of snatching a chain was brutally beaten first by the mob and then by the police, who even tied him to his motorcycle and dragged him for a distance. The visuals caught the attention of the nation and media pressure coupled with widespread condemnation of the open abuse of human rights forced Bihar government to act against the policemen involved.
Another story by a Citizen Journalist was the headline of the entire news network. The story about the stripping of over 1000 men in the village of Boraj, near Ajmer, shook the conscience of the whole nation. The local elected body at the grassroot level, the village Panchayat, had asked the men to strip to establish whether any of them was involved in the rape of a 35-year-old woman from the village.
Another story, by a Punjab based Citizen Journalist, exposed theft from trains that ferried oil. Many children, men and women filling their buckets with oil were shown and as a result many guilty officials lost their jobs.
The national and international media picked up the story of how the forest department people looted and burnt down a tribal settlement for encroaching on forestland. Based in the remote corner of the country, Betul, this citizen reporter has broken many stories till now.
When a woman stripped and walked on the street to draw attention to the harassment she faced from her in-laws, a Citizen Journalist quickly broke the story to mainstream media. Similar was the case of Gudia and Imrana — Gudia, the wife of a prisoner of war who married another man after her husband didn’t return from the war front; Imrana, a Muslim woman, who accused her own father-in-law of rape.
The phenomenon of grass root journalism is catching up fast in the country. Since access to television is more widespread than that of the internet the stories break first on television. However, the day is not far when with the growing reach of the internet and computers, this would change.
Whatever the channel, television or internet, the important thing is that for a democracy to survive, thrive and grow it is important that its people participate actively in its growth and participatory journalism is doing just that in India. More Info — www.merinews.com/index.jsp
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