The term “citizen journalist” has been circulating the mainstream media like a determined athlete running laps. Around every corner, there’s another blog entry or podcast discussing the changing role of journalism in light of social media.
Since the uprisings in the Middle East, which were largely documented on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, there’s no doubt that the average civilian has just as much access to public platforms as the paid journalist—so long as she has access to the internet. With the growing popularity of social media it’s becoming easier for individuals to partake in the capturing and documenting of history.
Perhaps the conversation needs a nudge in another direction; instead of asking whether or not we’ve entered the age of citizen journalism—which I think we have— perhaps we need to instead inquire as to how we’re instilling journalistic integrity into the next generation of writers.
Young Citizen Journalism is a new Facebook group dedicated to cultivating new writing talent. According to their information page, the group’s focus is nature, people, and life—which really doesn’t narrow down the scope of their trajectory, since pretty much any subject can be conceptualized under these categories. Nevertheless, the group states they’re dedicated to “the burning issues in the world,” encouraging young writers to “speak out and blow the whistle for change.”
So far, the group has only 21 “likes” on the social network, but hopes to grow with time and gather more interested young voices and supporters. Subjects written about so far include human trafficking, endangered wildlife, and the rights of nature.
The articles are uploaded onto the group’s WordPress page and then shared through other social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, and Digg. The site hopes to circulate it’s content to spark youth interest in world and environmental issues
More importantly, the space is teaching youths how to read an partake in the production of news— a different approach compared to how students are trained in educational institutions. Media courses offered in universities and colleges across North America often educate students on media from an outsider’s perspective, whereas Young Citizen Journalism hopes to teach media literacy from the inside-out.
Click here to learn more about the group.