JRN339: Global Journalism
Instructor: Dave Stave
May 25, 2015
When I think of the term citizen journalist, I think of a voice given to the people. Citizen journalism is a non-professional who gathers, spreads and analyzes the news by using websites like YouTube and creating blogs. With the help of smart phones, tablets and other mobile devices, citizens can capture breaking news as it happens and can possibly report it faster than a journalist on the scene. Even though citizen journalism is an exciting development in today’s society and citizens can capture what news media can’t, one can’t help but question how beneficial and reliable it is. Citizen journalism plays an important role today because it gives a different perspective on the news reported and people are able to inform one another as the news happens. Citizen journalism can also be useful when eyewitnesses report on stories that could reveal a truth that we may not be able to see if it was reported by the mainstream media.
The shooting of Walter Scott is an example of a citizen taking matters into its own hands and reporting something that may have not been reported by the mainstream media allowing both sides of the story being told.
Walter Scott, a 50 year old African American male, was pulled over by Officer Michael Slager a white male, during a routine traffic stop. There is a Dashcam from officer Slager’s patrol car that shows what happened leading up to the traffic stop that ended in the fatal shooting of Walter Scott.
According to CNN, “Slager approaches Scott's vehicle. The two men speak. Scott tells the officer he does not have insurance and is in the process of purchasing the vehicle. Slager then returns to his patrol car. Scott exits his vehicle, briefly, and Slager tells him to stay in the car. Scott then gets out of the car, again, and runs away, out of the range of the dash cam” (Fantz & Yan, 2015).
The result in the end of the police chase was Scott being shot and killed by Officer Slager. If citizen journalism was not involved we would only know of Scott running away from the police officer and the shooting could have possibly ended in a justified result but because someone took action and recorded what happened following Scotts’ departure from his vehicle, we were able to know more of the story.
Feidin Santana, was the eyewitness that morning of the deadly shooting. He took out his phone and recorded a video on his camera showing Scott fleeing form the officer as he shot 8 rounds only hitting him five times. “The police officer just shot him . . . I knew right away I had something in my hands,” Santana told NBC (Otis, 2015).
According to the Daily News, Mr. Santana thought about deleting the disturbing clip. In this day in age, when reporting the news citizen reporters and even traditional reporters want to put what they can out there just to say they reported it first.
When I read that Mr. Santana had his reservations about deleting the clip I was shocked. In my opinion, that shows good ethics because Mr. Santana did not want to offend the family by putting the video out without anyone knowing.
According to the Daily news, once the reports of Scott’s shooting death made the news, and he heard Slager claim the man had been grabbing for his Taser, Santana contacted the victim’s attorneys and family (Otis, 2015).
Santana States; “They were very emotional, when that happened, including me also,” Santana said about handing over the video. “I thought about his position, their situation and if I would have a family member that happened to, I would like to know the truth” (Otis, 2015).
As citizen journalism has its advantages by being able to inform others of the news as it happens and reporting the news from a different perspective, it also has its disadvantages. Citizen journalist have no formal training on what is accurate or inaccurate about reporting. One would also question on how a