by Acor Arceo
Citizen journalists must first be scrutinized and should adhere to journalism standards, says a University of the Philippines professor.
"Despite the opportunities offered by the new media, we must keep in mind that journalistic outputs are mainly used to reach out to audiences," says Danilo Arao, journalism assistant professor, in a speech delivered in 2006.
"It is imperative for a [person] to know the principles and standards of journalism before calling himself or herself a journalist."
In the Philippines, one site for citizen journalists is PinoyBee, "the first user-powered Filipino news community."
"The community strives to connect, entertain and inform readers on a variety of matters," states PinoyBee on its site.
Its topics range from technology, sports, and religion, to show business, fashion, sex, and food. Correspondents from Manila, Davao, Boracay, Cebu, and other parts of the country regularly post articles.
Over 4,100 articles have been posted by PinoyBee's top users, who are encouraged to post "stories important to you [and] to Filipinos worldwide."
In the case of PinoyBee, anyone with an e-mail address may become a correspondent. A person just has to select a username and password then submit articles for posting. This could pose problems in verifying the truthfulness of information.
Arao adds that informing through cyberspace is a task not to be taken lightly.
"The Internet has become a venue for interest groups to relay their messages, putting up websites and e-groups, among others, to reach out to online users. They all have something in common: They claim to know the truth and they try their best to be as convincing as possible," he says.
However, Merinews, the first citizen journalism site in India, explains the importance of citizen journalism.
"In this world where every media house is driven by a motive to earn revenue, it is bound to happen that news that is important to you and me is often pushed back," states Merinews. "Citizen journalism is breaking free of this media bias. It is about writing on issues whichyou feel are important. It is about telling the world your views."