Citizen journalism and the legacy media strive to the same objectives; the collection, dissemination, analysis and distribution of content for the good of the general public (source). The extra weapon which sets legacy media at the advantage to citizen journalism is gatekeeping. Gatekeepers, in the legacy media, effectively place a stamp of approval over information which is made available to the wider public. Information published by the legacy media is generally not questioned as it is seen to have been constructed by an authority. What is the role of gatekeepers in citizen journalism, you might ask? Uh, it’s kind of AWOL . . .
Citizen journalism can be seen as the complete absence of authority – the anarchy of the media world. It’s unreliable, it’s unchecked, it’s open-sourced . . . why does it work? It’s based on the premise that everybody knows something, but nobody knows everything. The days of the captive audience are gone, as each person now has the power to become a producer of content. Although the absence of gatekeepers has created the risk of non-legitimate and/or news content being ‘published’, there is also the opportunity for the production of valuable content, even if it is unauthorised (for example WikiLeaks).
The rise of the internet culture has enhanced the prosumer movement and thus excluded the legacy media from much of the content production and consumption cycle. Legacy news plants have been cutting jobs to cover subsequent losses, which only gives citizen journalism more power. The strength of legacy media is its quality, but the sheer quantity of citizen journalism channels has overcome the issue of bias and opened up a magnitude of doors and new opportunities!