About this sample
About this sample
4 pages /
4 pages /
In recent years, information is broadcast not only using the traditional media. With the rapid development of the internet and new media, information is delivered instantly to people all over the globe with the aids of social networking sites such as “Facebook” and “Instagram”. News on various issues can be spread by different senders to more receivers in real time. The concept of citizen journalism hence popularises, leading to a change of information broadcasting mode in Hong Kong. “Citizen journalism” is implying the act of an independent or a group of citizens “playing an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analysing and disseminating news and information” (Bowman & Willis, 2003, p. 9).
The citizens’ social awareness is found increased and social movements have been initiated more frequently (Liao, Liu, & Chen, 2011). The popularization of citizen journalism influences the Hong Kong society in terms of news perspectives and sociopolitical participation; meanwhile, challenges including the inconsistent level of journalism and the issue of digital media ethics are arisen. This essay will illustrate the social impacts caused by the issue to the Hong Kong society as well as exemplify challenges brought by the phenomenon.
As citizen journalism readily utilises social networking sites as broadcasting platforms, people can conveniently access comments from different perspectives spread by netizens. In Hong Kong, newspaper companies usually have a preference while reporting political issues, either representing the pan-democracy parties or the pro-Beijing camps. People lose confidence on paper media as biased reports written by journalists are commonly found (Guo, Huang, To, & Chan, 2010).
To understand the incidents more thoroughly, readers seek detailed yet neutral articles, while the presence of social media fulfills readers’ preference. In the digital environment in which journalists now work, more diverse perspectives regarding the same news issue are being presented (Haak, Parks, & Castells, 2012).
Living at the era of information and technology, everybody can spread news and opinions in the virtual world. Not only can the professional journalist take part in the reporting process but also the general public. When every individual is a reporter, fruitful information of specific issues can be easily obtained online. With more and more people using the internet resources, surveys reveal that people have started to place more trust in online wellsprings and are pursuing news sources from progressively diverse perspectives (Bowman & Willis, 2003).
In such circumstances, the new platform enables netizens to give distinct views and provides readers an omniscient point of view towards numerous events. Meanwhile, some professional journalists are eager to reach a bias-free reporting strategy providing as many different views on a topic as possible. Citizen journalism assists this new reporting style thanks to the popularization of social networking platforms which allow people in different positions to describe the situation and express their feelings freely (Haak, Parks, & Castells, 2012).
Broadcasting of information is no longer a one-sided knowledge transmission but an interactive communication. A wider exploration of news can be attained, while senders and receivers can have discussions concerning specific issues instantaneously. News perspectives on the internet become more and more universal, while citizens start switching their attention from paper media to social media.
Citizen journalism has led to the rise of people’s social awareness, resulting in increasing sociopolical participation. People are able to receive information at anytime and anywhere with the access of the internet at the era of information explosion, especially after the popularization of social networking sites (SNS). With more rapid interactive information transmission using various social media, citizens can understand the social concerns effortlessly.
In depth comments and criticism posted by different netizens are easily discovered. In the past, citizens could only receive news and knowledge by limited means. Inadequate channels were provided for audience and readers to express their views or follow up the process of issues. In contrast, the advanced development of social networking sites offers citizens platforms to exchange opinions and political ideas. Citizens can understand the situation of Hong Kong more conveniently, whereas more people are influenced and hence show their attention towards sociopolitical issues. In 2011, a study showed that the more participation on the online discussion platforms citizens has, the more involvement they have in political movements (Harlow, 2011).
It implies that the frequent interchange of ideas on sociopolitical issues can lead to the enhancement of citizen’s political insight. People’s social awareness is boosted whilst political campaigns are thus organized more often with growing number of participants. During the Umbrella Movement in 2014, the interactivity of social networking platform empowered alternative media to play an important role in shaping collective actions and public opinions (Chan, 2015).
A campaign was first initiated on social networking sites, asking citizens to gather at the government headquarters at Admiralty. After the outbreak of the movement, netizens took the role of citizen journalist, utilizing various social networking platforms to broadcast news and enabling citizens who were not staying in the occupied areas to comprehend the development of the campaign. Views of respective parties were shared and spread worldwide, attracting more people to join the debates online or visit the occupied areas. All in all, citizen journalism showed its effect on surging the citizens’ sociopolitical participation.
The rise of citizen journalism faces criticism regarding the professional level of the new form of journalism though numerous positive changes from the news and social perspectives were brought. Professional journalists can hardly monitor all reports posted online as citizens whoever access the social networking sites can give details on various events and leave their opinions. Millions of articles and comments are being posted in the social media, whilst the trustworthiness of the information released is not guaranteed.
The experts barely ensure the quality of articles produced by citizen journalists, questioning whether or not citizen journalists are required to be as balanced and impartial as the professional journalists (Ward, 2012). With the potential of imbalanced journal standard, citizen journalism faces the challenge of lacking credibility. On social media platforms, everybody is a reporter. Citizens who capture incidents by using their mobile devices can transmit the information immediately. However, if efficient reporting skills are absent, bogus or biased reporting will happen (Ward, 2014). Thus, tension and negotiation are commonly seen between citizen journalism and professional journalistic practices (Wang, 2012).
Slacktivism behavior is another problem that gives rise to the issue (Carr, 2012). Netizens may share posts or comments with bias, following the trend without evaluating the real situation. The reliability of information found on social networking sites is hence lowered. Not only does the new form of journalism face the problem of lacking authority but also the traditional form of journalism. As focus of the citizens are switching to the online platforms, readership and viewership of paper media and television media declined respectively. To attract more readers and audience, traditional media may produce reports and articles according to the interest of viewers. Professional articles, which are considered as unattractive, may be produced in smaller amount. The traditional media is criticized to become market-driven. As a result, the professional level of both the new and traditional form of journalism is challenged.
The issue of digital media ethics has caught people’s attention concerning the popularization of citizen journalism. Citizen without any journalistic training or professional broadcasting knowledge are allowed to become a citizen journalist, sharing information on different social networking sites (Ward, 2012). The information shared can be spread instantly all over the internet whereas the authenticity of source is hardly ensured. Authenticity, which emphasizes on unbiased processing of information (Trepte & Reinecke, 2011), is interrelated to privacy. When it comes to online information distribution, freedom of speech is allowed to a large extend with anonymity being accepted (Ward, 2012).
Nevertheless, anonymity indeed encourages irresponsible and harmful comments which may hamper one’s private life. Not only do the celebrities in town become the target of paparazzi but also general citizens are being observed (Stuart, 2010). Numerous cases have shown that some citizen journalists had made unfair criticism on general public through social networking sites for self-interested reasons (Ward, 2012).
The biased reports produced by irresponsible individuals consequently obstruct the lifestyles of citizens, while the permit of online anonymity hinders investigation of the origin of hostile behaviors. In fact, the act of revealing people’s personal details on publicly accessible platforms may infringe the right of privacy. According to Article 14 in the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance (1997), Hong Kong citizens enjoy the “protection of privacy, home, family, correspondence, honour and reputation”. It is not allowed to interference others’ personal life in unlawful way or with arbitrary reasons.
The debate regarding whether one’s privacy should override the freedom of speech and press has existed for a long time, while the discussion has become more controversial after the popularization of citizen journalism (Sell, 2013). The issue of digital media ethics has thus become conspicuous in Hong Kong.
The popularization of citizen journalism in Hong Kong provides citizens with new perspectives to analyze various issues and enhance their sociopolitical participation. Whilst, with the actively use of social networking sites, some challenges surfaced concerning the situation. Criticism concerning the professional level of both the new and traditional form and citizen journalism and the issue of digital media ethics is raised. It is understood that everyone in our society has the right and responsibility to protect the law and refuse any harmful attacks from the internet. With the promotion of e-learning, more people will soon be involved in social media and become citizen journalists (Duffy, 2010).
To achieve a sustainable progress in citizen journalism in Hong Kong, citizens should reach compromises about the proper function of citizen journalism. Solutions suggested by different stakeholders are welcomed while more attention from the public and government is hoped to be put on the issue.
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