Citizen Journalism and 9/11

Citizen journalism played a huge part in the reporting and mass media production of the tragic events that took place on the 11th of September 2011. This is not only due to the insane amount of mobile phone and camcorder footage but also because even the small amount of news cameras that did manage to capture those fateful moments were completely raw, you could hear the fear and the disbelief as the camera operators yelled out in shock. They too became a part of the phenomenon of citizen journalism because the staged, perfectly angular, edited shots that are generally associated with the mass media were nowhere to be seen.


While the news reports had a new kind of citizen journalism, the traditional videos that give a snapshot of the news in the seconds the complete rundown with no reporter’s monologue. Introduce: YouTube. The video sharing site created in 2005 opened the world up to a raft of new 9/11 videos. Previously shared just amongst friends, or sent in to news agencies 9/11 videos were able to reach a global audience and so began the uploads. A simple search of  “9/11 footage gives results upwards of 370,000 videos.

Some of these videos were actually more steady and clear than the supposed professional camera men were able to get.

The video below was recorded by a man who simply set up his tripod and camera and left. He had no idea he would record the exact moment the second tower would be hit.

9/11 news coverage WAS citizen journalism. Perhaps not in its traditional sense so much but 9/11 definitely showed the impact citizen journalism can have.


What is Citizen Journalism?

Citizen journalism is media that is not manipulated by the outside news organisations that publish the news such as Fairfax, it is completely raw and unedited. Examples of citizen journalism include the recent influx of youtube videos that cover the recent Wagga Wagga flood. This video was shown in last wednesdays lecture in order to demonstrate that while it is less refined citizen journalism can be just as effective as its more refined and published counterpart.

From this video it is clear that the flooding in this area has reached an extreme level, cars are shown to be flooded and inundated with water. This is the exact same information that you would get from a nightly news report without the words (this video has barely any narration whilst a news report is based more so on the descriptions, which are sometimes over emotionional, than the pictures, maps and videos).

Citizen journalism also has the opportunity to be more accurate than mass media. In the John Mayer clip below the line “When they own the information, they can bend it all they want” shows that governments and relevant authorities can often only release a small snapshot which may lead to audiences forming opinions that may not be entirely accurate.

However on the other side of the argument it could be argued that citizen journalism can also be manipulated by their creators in order to achieve a predetermined outcome. For example whilst we are led to believe the video about is from the most recent floods it could be from any flood, at any time, anywhere in the world.

The public gets the best picture when citizen journalism and mass media work together to create a more informed picture and therefore a more informed public.

See you next time for an in-depth look at how citizen journalism impacted the presentation of the events of 9/11 in the media.

Hello world!

My name is Madeleine Mann and I am a first year student at the University of Wollongong. I am currently studying a Bachelor of International Studies and a Bachelor of Communication and Media and that is what this blog is for. I will be blogging about how the media is used to get messages across to the public.

The issue I have chosen to focus on is citizen journalism and how it has changed the way events are communicated in the media.

The events that took place in New York City on September 11, 2001 is one example that I will be reviewing in depth. How was 9/11 depicted in the media?  How did citizen journalism come into the newspaper articles and radio and television newscasts? Other events that will be explored include various Australian natural disasters and other major news events.

I hope you enjoy my blog!