Citizen Journalism and the Basics of Good Reporting



Every time you decide to click that post button on your Facebook account, your Twitter, Instagram, or other social media sites, you are letting hundreds of thousands of netizens have a glimpse of your thoughts.


Seriously, how much time do you spend before you decide to click that post button? A minute? An hour? You spend a lot of time gathering and analyzing information for you to be able to clearly speak your mind; because just like any social media subscriber, your goal is to be heard. You want to entertain, inform, inspire, or influence. With every post, tweet or upload, do you realize how your one click can make a difference?


There is an existing concept developed in the early 80’s which involves the public in the process of spreading information through any means or tools of journalism called citizen journalism. Citizen journalism is the active participation of the citizen in any of the processes of journalism through the use of any journalistic approach such as news writing, editorial or commentaries, and feature articles, not to mention photographs and videos which made a breakthrough in the rapid reportage of events or ideas.


I can say that all of us are citizen journalists. Every time you click that button, you are signing yourself to the growing number of citizen journalists. It must have started with a post, a tweet, a blog, or an upload, but have you tried posting a news article?


What is a news story?

News is any event, idea or opinion that is timely and could affect a large number of people in the community. One of your posts may have been a good news article. A news should have elements or specific ingredients in order for it to be called newsworthy. This includes the element of Immediacy. A news article must be fresh. What is timely is news.


News must also have the element of proximity or nearness. What is news to some might not be news to others. Most of the time, it is a matter of nearness. What happens near you is news. For example, a fire that broke out in Iriga City might not be news to us who live here in Baguio City, unless the whole city was burned, which leads us to another element: oddity. Oddity is the peculiarity of an event which makes a story more interesting to read.


Another element is the element of prominence. This is a reason prominent people make a good news article. Most of the time, tons of news articles about actors, solons, Youtube sensations, or anybody who is famous interests most of the audience.


The element of conflict and emotion must also be present. One example would be a sports news which is a popular way of reportage and news features which draw the attention of the audience to the emotional side of the story.


At least one or two of these elements must be present in your news article. Having been familiarized with these elements, you can now learn the processes of news writing.


How do you write a news story?

First, you have to be precise about the correctness of the information that you are going to relay. A serious verification of information through researching for valid sources must of course be done before you proceed with writing your article. How are you going to validate your sources? Citizen journalists could get valid information through the press releases of agencies from Internet portals. Pamphlets, newsletters, memorandum orders, memos and the like may also be used. These sources will also be very useful so that your article may not look or sound like plagiarized.


News writing is basically a way different to creative writing. The creative side of news writing is drawn to a different perspective in which it is most directed to the proper usage of words that could be best understood by most of the people who would read your story. Thus, news writing is a strategic way of storytelling. The execution of writing such stories follows the model of an inverted pyramid. Therefore, the information that you have gathered is arranged in a deductive manner. News is written in such manner so that an audience would know the story at a first glance.


If ever you get the details for your news article, remember the acronym “KISS” which stands for “Keep It Short and Simple”. For example, “The rat is eaten by the cat” is best written simply as “The cat ate the rat.” Both are grammatically correct but you could understand the latter more.


Given with the opportunities of the technological 20th century we live in right now, we might as well put our efforts to make our posts and tweets or whatever it is that we put on social media more constructive, correct and responsible. – Kimberly Dumling




Kimberly Dumling is a graduating BS Hotel and Restaurant Management student of the University of Baguio.





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