Reporting crises in a digital age
In seeking to examine the emergent ecology of online crisis reporting, this paper explores how professional news coverage is being shaped by the contributions of ordinary individuals. Citizen journalism is often credited with providing impromptu documentation of crisis events with a new kind of closeness, that is, a raw, immediate, intensely subjective perspective crafted by those struggling to bear witness to the scene around them. At the same time, however, this apparent democratisation of participation poses certain challenges, particularly where questions regarding ethics, impartiality and the public interest are concerned. Drawing upon a series of case studies revolving around the online reporting of local, national and international crises, this paper argues that new forms of citizen witnessing hold the promise to reinvigorate journalism’s social responsibilities within democratic cultures.
About the speaker:
Stuart Allan is Professor of Journalism in the Media School, Bournemouth University, UK, where he is also the Director of the Centre for Journalism and Communication Research. He has published widely on a range of topics, including the emergence and development of news on the internet, the online reporting of war, conflict and crisis, science journalism (special interest in nanotechnology), and citizen journalism. He is currently conducting a research study examining the use of digital imagery in news reporting during times of crisis. His most recent book, Citizen Witnessing, will be published by Polity in 2012.