Citizen journalism

Stephen: Hello, I'm Stephen.
Rob: And I'm Rob.
Stephen: And this is 6 Minute English! This week we’re talking about citizen journalism.

Rob: Citizen journalism – that’s when people who aren’t trained journalists write or report about their experiences or use social media, like Facebook or Twitter, to broadcast their messages.

Stephen: Over the last few weeks, media companies have published a large number of videos, photos, phone calls and blogs from citizen journalists in countries where protests have been taking place, and there aren’t many – or any — traditional journalists. But as usual, I’m going to start with a question for you, Rob.

Rob: OK, I’m ready.
Stephen: Which of these six countries, according to figures from internet world stats, has the largest percentage of people using the internet?

Rob: The largest percentage of people who use the internet. OK. Have got you any clues?

Stephen: Well, your six countries are South Korea, Japan, the US, the UK, India or China.

Rob: Hmm…let me think. I would say South Korea.

Stephen: Well, I won’t tell you the answer just yet. We can find out at the end of the programme. So let’s talk about citizen journalism. Could citizen journalists ever replace traditional journalists? Peter Barron, the Director of External Relations at Google, says there has been a massive democratisation in access to information.

Rob: A massive democratisation – that's when people all over the world can access information on the internet, and use the same tools to publish information themselves.

Insert 1: Peter Barron, Director of External Relations, Google
The point here is that there has been a massive democratisation in access to information and the ability to publish information – so everybody these days can be a publisher. What you’ve seen time and time again, is that the very high quality material rises to the top and becomes a trusted brand, alongside the trusted brands that already exist.

Stephen: Peter Barron from Google believes that the best quality blogs will become as trusted as media companies — media brands — which already have a good reputation.

Rob: Very high quality material rises to the top – the best blogs will become as popular as traditional broadcasters or newspapers.

Stephen: Alan Rusbridger is the editor of the Guardian newspaper in the UK. He says that traditional journalists will always be needed to make sense of large amounts of information, something which citizen journalists might not be able to do. He uses the example of Wikileaks.

Insert 2: Alan Rusbridger, Editor, The Guardian
The case of Wikilieaks was an excellent one; 300 million words would have been completely meaningless if it had been dumped on the internet, as well as being completely unsafe. It took months of Guardian, New York Times, Der Spiegel journalists going through and finding the stories, redacting them and making sense of them. So the journalist still has a valuable role as mediator, analyser and finder and verifier of stories.

Stephen: Alan Rusbridger, editor of the Guardian newspaper, who gives the example of Wikileaks, where he says 300 million words, dumped on the internet, would have been completely meaningless if journalists hadn’t been able to go through them.

Rob: To go through them – finding stories and checking them. He says the journalist has a valuable role as mediator, analyser, finder and verifier of stories.