“For the nation’s rise and fall every citizen has a responsibility.”
– Unknown Author, Chinese Proverb
What is citizen journalism? According to Shayne Bowman andChris Willis’ work We Media: How Audiences are Shaping the Future of News and Information, citizen journalism is an “act of a citizen, or group of citizens, playing an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing and disseminating news and information, in order to provide independent, reliable, accurate, wide-ranging and relevant information”. In other terms, it is a form of communication practices centered around credibility, witness, investigation, and reporting that aims to influence in the construction of what is contemplated to be reality.
It is important for one to not confuse citizen journalism with community journalism or civic journalism, since both are practices performed by professional journalists. In addition, though working along side professional journalists, collaborative journalism and social journalism are not related concepts. Specifically, citizen journalism is composed of both citizen media and user generated content. In other words, managed by amateurs it is an online and digital form of journalism that emphasizes the relation between the exercise of journalism and its association to the public sphere.
No longer dealing with newspaper or magazine platforms and using social media and media-sharing websites, like blogs, citizen journalists project to his or her audiences via online connections by generating credibility based on how successful an individual builds a fan-base through his or her writing’s genre, creativity and edginess. Being an internet-based media gives individuals opportunities to post information that would most likely be unable to reach print into the mainstream media. In today’s society, due to the availability of technology citizens now control how, where, and when to report breaking news.This access to powerful resources provides citizen journalism the ability to shape the public’s insights and mobilize public attitude.
Here’s An Inside Tip
With different norms, values, and rules, citizen journalists depend greatly on personal technologies, such as mobile phones, personal computers, and digital cameras.
“What was it we say about appearances? Yes, they can be deceiving. But most of the time, what you see is what you get.”
– Gossip Girl, The Handmaiden’s Tale
Named for a pop-culture term, Gossip Girl, the 2007 to 2012 television series, starsBlake Lively as Serena van der Woodsen the It-Girl, Leighton Meester as Blair Waldorf the queen bee of Manhattan’s social scene, Ed Westwick as Chuck Bass the antihero businessman with devilish charm, Penn Badgley as Dan Humphrey the writer and “outsider, and Chace Crawford as Nate Archibald the sensitive “Golden Boy”. The teen drama program, created by Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage depicts a friend group of privileged teenagers living on the Upper Eastside of New York City whose secrets become exposed by an anonymous blogger with the URL Gossip Girl, narrated by Kristen Bell. Specifically, Gossip Girl brings its readers the breaking news of the social lives of the popular elite, in which information is acquired from the assistance of regular people who dig around for peoples’ dirty secrets.
Without You, I’m Nothing
In today’s society the desire to inform the public of his or her current actions on social media platforms is common, so individuals have become accustomed to living vicariously. Digital/visual media makes one more connected, emotional, and involved about witnessing something, since people want to feel more rather than think more. Unlike print media, digital media has a developed a notion of immediacy by inspiring immediate reactions from its audience.
By reporting relevant and entertaining information to its audience members, Gossip Girl’s success lies in the content of the blog. Particularly, the context is created in an environment where gossip is highly valued, like who Serena is dating or what kind of trouble did Chuck get himself into now. Also, making a person’s private problems, such as being caught in a love triangle and taking a pregnancy test, available for the public allows everyday citizens to feel like he or she directly knows the socialites which makes it okay to get involved. Throughout the series there is an unidentified group of pre-teen girls who show up out of the blue to lecture and share their opinions on an elite’s situation. For instance, with the urge to take a side in an on-going debate about what guy Serena will choice to be with, Dan or Nate, the group of girls walked up to Serena and Dan in Central Park and after stating whether one was Team Nate or Team Dan they started questioning the two regarding how Serena could pick Dan after he cheated on her.
“You know, it’s kind of funny, how you can find meaning from things you wouldn’t think to look at. Like on a TV show – the truth always comes out, it’s one of the fundamental rules of time. And when it comes out it can set you free, or end everything you’ve fought so hard for. Another way the truth comes out – when you don’t even mean it to, or when, without saying a word, it’s still heard loud and clear. But the worst thing the truth can do? Is when you finally tell it, it doesn’t set you free, but locks you away forever.”
– Gossip Girl, All About My Brother
Although knowing everything about everyone is powerful, how one distributes the information is even more influential. Each and every time a new blog post on Gossip Girl is uploaded, the scandal is then instantaneously transmitted through SMS, text message, to the entire student body via his or her cell phones. Gossip Girl tried to only provide accurate information on the blog, but when regular people are the ones taking photos and writing in the tips he or she is biased. Unaware of the real circumstances and interpreting what he or she believes to be happening, most of the time Gossip Girl’s posts are inaccurate or do not tell the whole story. With that said, digital media is a medium where one’s personal record is archived, which makes it easy for an individual to look back on the past and to haunt one forever.
For example, in season two’s episode The Age of Dissonance, after the truth came out about the false accusation of a St. Jude’s School for Boys student, who ended up being Dan, having an affair with a professor at the Constance Billard School for Girls, Blair’s reputation and academic records became tarnished, since someone reported to Gossip Girl of Blair’s lie. Therefore, being denied from Yale, Blair desperately seeks other Ivy’s to accept her into their college, and even goes to an admission director’s house to beg to be let into Sarah Lawrence College. Despite her past on Gossip Girl, Blair ends up at Columbia.
Even if one individual stops reporting his or her personal views and stories, there are thousands more people still participating. With that said, never going away, citizen journalism will continue on playing a main role in how one receives and perceives information today.
“You may be rid of Dan Humphrey, but you’ll never be rid of me. There will always be someone on the outside wanting to get in. Who am I now? That’s one secret I’ll never tell. XOXO, Gossip Girl.”
– Gossip Girl, New York, I Love You XOXO