Social Media Makes Us Citizen Journalists

Social media doesn’t just make us consumers of news, it makes us part of the news.

We’re no longer relying on the mainstream media to inform us. In many cases, we’re reporting it ourselves, or at the very least, spreading it beyond the traditional media’s original reach. I can’t count the number of stories I heard about on Twitter, Facebook, or a friend asking me, “hey, did you just hear about __________?”

In some cases, it’s just a link that points back to a story in an online newspaper. It could be a tweet from @IndyStar, it could be a retweet of a story in another part of the world, or it could even be a blogger reporting on news with national ramifications that is still only making ripples in their local media.

My point is we are starting to create our own media. While the mainstream media may sneer and look down their noses at bloggers as citizen journalists, the fact is they are coming up with some interesting stories, often breaking the news before the professionals.

In fact, the Associated Press has gone so far as to not only acknowledged the existence of bloggers, but will even now cite them as a source.

“We should provide attribution whether the other organization is a newspaper, website, broadcaster or blog; whether or not it’s U.S. based; and whether or not it’s an AP member or subscriber,” said the Associated Press’ September 1 online press release.

In other words, they may not like it, but they have to follow their own rules about us.

This is just one more indication that citizen journalists are becoming more important to informing our communities and discussing the things the professionals don’t. This is also one more reason why citizen journalists need to act like real journalists, and not the half-assed rabble rousers they assume us to be.

Want more proof that citizen journalism is continuing to grow? There are a growing number of sites that aggregate our citizen journalist news for us, so we can read more stories about our favorite topics in one location.

  • Newsvine: Community driven news. They reprint wire content, and some members have their own blogs. This one has all the same sections as a traditional newspaper.
  • NowPublic: A citizen journalist network where users do their own reporting, upload videos and audio.
  • The American Reporter: The Internet’s first original content alternative daily newspaper. They publish news from journalists and citizen journalists from around the world. They were the first to break the story about the A.A. Milne estate suing Disney for royalties of Winnie the Pooh. (Disclosure: I have been AR’s humor columnist since 1997.)
  • SB Nation: A collection of sports news, blogs, and scores. It’s done in conjunction with Yahoo Sports, but also a collection of 278 sports blogs from around the country. It’s easy to see a single network — ESPN, Sports Illustrated — covering sports this thoroughly, but SB Nation is able to put it together for a fraction of the cost.
  • Autospies: A collection of automotive news organized by and for automotive enthusiasts. If you are an automotive professional, you may hear breaking news here before you get it in your other industry publications.
  • Tip’d: A finance, investing, and business site that works like Digg. You read a story, “tip” it, and then discuss it.
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    About Erik Deckers

    Erik Deckers is the President of Pro Blog Service, a content marketing and social media marketing agency He co-authored four social media books, including No Bullshit Social Media with Jason Falls (2011, Que Biz-Tech), and Branding Yourself with Kyle Lacy (3rd ed., 2017, Que Biz-Tech), and The Owned Media Doctrine (2013, Archway Publishing). Erik has written a weekly newspaper humor column for 10 papers around Indiana since 1995. He was also the Spring 2016 writer-in-residence at the Jack Kerouac House in Orlando, FL.


    1. As a former journalism student, this is truly what I love most about social media. The power that it puts in an individual’s hands from a news reporting standpoint is amazing.