Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Citizen journalism democratises multi-media technologies – Salawu

Head, Department of Media and Communications Studies, Ajayi Crowther University, Nigeria, Dr. Abiodun Salawu, has described citizen journalism as the democratisation of the multi-media technologies by the people and for the people.

Speaking at the just concluded third regional workshop on Medias and Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) issues in West Africa held in Dakar, capital of Senegal, he was emphatic that the tide has changed in the modules of disseminating or receiving information.

The workshop which has its theme as ‘New technologies, new journalism and improved governance,’ and attracted participants from Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Liberia, Cameroon, Namibia, South Africa, The Gambia, Togo, Canada, Guinea Conakry and Ivory Coast.

He also described citizen journalism as secular process of passing information in this age, saying that even the journalism training institutions need to wake up and ensure that they are up-to-date in the use of ICT in the profession.

“Senders of the message have become the receivers as well as interactional, thus not a one way communications any more,” Dr. Salawu declared, pointing out that there is a change of roles among citizens, hence citizen journalism avails a secular process in the way we distribution information and news particularly.

He also said that newspapers industry need to do is to restrategise but definitely they would not be extinct.

As much as we accept the democratic participation of citizens in neo-journalism, there is need to reposition by media

In citizen journalism, Dr. Salawu equally said that its horizontal in nature and receivers of information ought to be active receivers and should not be left in the hands of professionals.

He further identified lack of writing culture among West Africans especially where the ICT infrastructure are not readily available and affordable.

“Writing culture may hamper citizen journalism in developing economies like Nigeria,” he noted.

Although he expressed concern over what some protagonists have said would be the drawing line between citizen journalists and professional journalists, mostly now that everyone could in the actual sense practice journalism.

“My fear is that the theory of non-professionalism journalism may still drag down the spirit of professionalising journalism,” he warned.

Equally speaking to over 60 participants, the African Editor of a ‘citizen journalism’ aggregator, Global Voices, Mr. Ndesanjo Macha, said that citizen journalism has impacted greatly to the avalanche of information available today on the Internet and has given boost to information sharing among the peoples of the world.

This, he said, has been more evident in emergencies such as London bombing and collapsing of a bridge in one of the United States region, which were captured initially by mere citizens with their mobile camera phones before the journalists even learnt about it.

The likes of Cable Network (CNN) and BBC have introduced means of incorporating ‘citizen journalists’ news from their audience.

While calling on African media organisations to emulate this path, Mr. Macha stressed those citizen journalists rather than taking over the work of professional journalists, compliments themselves.

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