Citizen journalism – is it the future?

Citizen journalism is a “fantastic new development”, according to the editors of two major news websites who took part in the latest Journalists speak out about Journalism talk.

Marc Wadsworth, editor of The Latest website, said that media produced by untrained citizens was “not a replacement for professional journalism but a brilliant supplementary to it”.

He was joined by Farmers’ Weekly editor Jane King to debate the pros and cons of the new trend during the talk titled ‘Is the future citizen journalism?’.


The Latest.com editor Marc Wadsworth spoke about citizen journalism in the future.

The Latest was founded in January 2006, running as one of the first dedicated news portals for citizen journalism in Britain. It allows its members to submit articles and images without any previous training in journalism or libel law.

During the London riots the website published a number of articles written by their members, providing  what Marc describes as “an alternative” to the national press coverage.

Editor Marc Wadsworth said: “It’s about time people spoke out and stuck up for people, the people need a voice.”

Quoting Nelson Mandela, he said that the “riot is the voice of the unheard” and The Latest’s journalists were talking for “the people who are suffering at the sharp end of government policies”.

Its editor, Marc Wadsworth, said taxi drivers as a good example of a citizen journalist as they “have the hand on the pulse of what’s really happening out there”.

But it’s not just online where citizen journalism is being used, as Jane King told students how user generated content was being published in Farmers’ Weekly.

Jane King, editor of Farmers’ Weekly also thanked the new content for a “growing interest” in their website.

She said: “Sometimes you could trust the content more as it’s from the audience we’re targeting rather than journalists.”

But the editor and visiting senior fellow at the university also said: “We have to manage the balance of citizen journalism with analytical, probing, well researched content.”

During five years of the Farmers’ Weekly having interactive features, Jane said that she only had to remove one article from the website for breaking the codes of conduct.

She said: “The community determines the rules of engagement and what is acceptable or not. They normally tell each other off when they find someone has been offensive. ”

Both speakers agreed that in the future, citizen journalism will be one of many big challenges facing professional journalists. As well as the struggle to remain profitable, the panel agreed that citizen journalism will continue to grow in popularity and has a future in journalism.

— The next talk in the series sees acclaimed broadcaster Angela Rippon reveal her “Ten Top Tips on Broadcast Journalism” and leading freelance fashion journalist Sofia Shershunovich share her “Top Tips on Fashion Journalism” on Monday, November 7th at 6.15pm.

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