It’s the figure skating field of 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics Winter Games. You spectate and record Japanese figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu’s elegant performance on the ice with your camera. Yuzuru scores highest and you eagerly post his skating video online with great congratulations. It’s Monday morning, you wake up and check twitter updates as usual only find that your friend (who is not a journalist) near Times Square warned that “Stay out of the place and avoid the N line. Police were responding to a bomb threat”. You retweet the post in shock and ask for sure that your friend is safe now. Your favorite actress joins the “MeToo” activity denouncing Hollywood sexual scandals and unfair treatments women have received, and you are inspired to participate into the discussion and appeal your Twitter followers to stand out and have a voice. In these situations, you are a news witness and reporter, a transmitter, a commenter; because of your habit of using social media to share what you see, hear, and experience instantly, you are in the stream of citizen journalism.
In the digital age saturated with all kinds of “information” and news via various social media platforms of Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, etc., we are gradually used to hear voices from other channels than media institutions like New York Times, BBC, the Fox, WSJ. But the emergence of Web 2.0 journalism was only several years ago. Back to the 19th century, newspapers (and to a lesser extent magazines) were the primary medium of journalism. As photography was born, news welcomed its image member in the late 19th century; decades later, people began to hear news and critics through radio; and when it came to mid-20th century, television as a new medium combining image, sound, and texts started to disseminating information through screens. Journalism has always been seized in the hands of a group of people trained with professional ethics and norms, equipped with industrial resources and capital until the back of the “screen” becomes accessible to anybody that normal people actively collect, report, analyze, and disseminate news and information to everyone else. Technological advancement not only propels the evolution of journalism’s format but also changes the playground of new roles and powers.
This project proceeds from the development of the gathering and transmitting of news and will track journalism’s each locus throughout three major media technological phases, from the printing press era since the 18th century, to the stage of radio and television in the 20th century, and to the current networked 21st century of the internet. This project will particularly focus on the development of citizen journalism. Who are the participants? How do they build up credibility as individuals and as reps of communities? Since when did they emerge, develop, begin to supplement the mainstream of media institutions, and acquire increasing influences? To answer these questions this project will retrospect the history of journalism by elucidating significant objects of newspapers, magazines, radio and television newsroom, social media websites, and purely-online news media (websites and apps) to tell the story how citizen journalism flourishes because of the nourishment and mercy brought by technology, depict its inner ecology where the discourse system parallels with the professional field of journalism although with a slice of difference, and try to locate participatory journalism’s position compared with conventional journalism reined by news agencies.