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The rise of citizen journalism: Its impact on professional journalism's traditional ideal of objectivity

McGuckin, Stuart (2015) The rise of citizen journalism: Its impact on professional journalism's traditional ideal of objectivity. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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Recent technological advancements have created a change in the public sphere that has enabled more people to create, publish and disseminate material that could be considered journalism.

This rise of so-called ‘citizen journalism’ has caused a fundamental shift in the role of the wider population in public discussions. As the public becomes more involved in discussions, their relationship to professional journalism has been altered. In turn it seems inevitable that the traditional roles of journalism will be similarly adjusted. The changing of these traditional roles in professional journalism may be indicative of changes to long held guiding ideals.

Objectivity has long been one of the guiding ideals of professional journalism and is often considered to be a key distinction between professional and amateur journalism practices.

This thesis sets out to answer the question of what impact the rise of citizen journalism has had on the traditional journalistic ideal of objectivity. It will examine whether the increased proliferation of citizen journalism has had an effect on the traditional practices and roles of professional journalism. A range of professional and citizen journalists took part in a series of interviews. Their responses provided insight into the approaches they take and the ideals they seek to adhere to. The interviews also sought to define ‘citizen journalism’ and ‘journalistic objectivity’ in an effort to improve the understanding of how the terms are practically applied.

By considering, comparing and collating the responses of the participants and the relevant literature, this thesis is able to draw conclusions about the lasting impact of citizen journalism on traditional journalism practices and ideals. The modern public sphere in which professional journalists now operate does not allow the same old practices to be as effective as they once were. In order to continue as a paid service, journalism—as a professional craft or industry—needs to adapt to the new way audiences consume news information and not expect that the same ideals that have guided them through the last century are the only way to get their message across.

Publication Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Arts
Supervisor: Murray, Leo and Porter, Andrew
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