There was a time, not so long ago in fact, when the news was reported by solely the media industry. To see and hear about everything that was happening in the world, and how it personally affected them, people would read newspapers in the morning, browse their bi-weekly and monthly magazines during the afternoon and watch the evening news at night with their families. The more informed people were, the more educated they were about what the world’s occurrences.
Recently, however, the times have changed. Since the Internet has expanded the one-to-one communication medium in to a one-to-one, one-to-many and many-to-many system, reporters and anchormen no longer hold the title as the sole news reporters. People can now log online to read about the news, comment about the news, discuss the news in forums and share the news with others. That old tradition of watching an evening newscast and being told about current events has died. Now, with such recent technological advances as satellite Internet broadband, a new phenomenon has begun; a new age of news gathering and reporting has started. People exposed to the news no longer sit back and believe what they are told. They actively research topics, they blog about experiences and they report their stories. Thus, the age of citizen journalism has been born, an age that has already revolutionized the news industry.
Because such technologies like satellite Internet grant Internet access to anyone, anywhere in the world, people are now able to report on specific events that the news industry either did not report on or was unable to describe.
Right before the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, for example, China experienced some heavy rioting within the Tibetan Autonomous Region. News coverage of the event, however, was very sparse and unreliable, especially on the international level. Most major news stations did not provide accurate reports, did not double check facts and utilized doctored and edited pictures during broadcasts. Granted, many of these errors were justified due to the Chinese government’s strong control of the media, but at the same time they were very irresponsible.
Citizen journalists as well as foreign correspondents at the scene of the riots, however, were able to document the incidents and point out western media’s errors in order to get the story straight. They utilized their mobile satellite Internet connections and were able to upload information right away to their blogs or to their corresponding news agencies’ Web sites, in order to accurately report on events.
Another example is the current, horrible situation in Haiti: the massive earthquake that killed over 150,000 people while at the same time devastated the country’s infrastructure. Currently, the aftermath of this cataclysmic natural disaster is dominating the news. On the contrary to past newsgathering strategies, many media outlets are utilizing citizen journalists and citizen journalism techniques and technology to get as much information as possible. People on the ground are twittering information via satellite Internet to their individual twitter pages and to specific pages such as CNN. From there, the networks are using the reported information to help paint a larger picture of the rescue and relief efforts from the international community.
Because of the technological advances in Internet technology, the news industry has been revolutionized. People no longer play the role of the audience; they are now the witnesses, the news gatherers and the reporters. They are now the key experts of news worthy events because they were there for the actual occurrence. And with satellite broadband and other technologies ameliorating the news-information relationship, there is no telling what the future will hold.