Scribes feel the heat as Citizen Journalism gains momentum

Journalists in the Zimbabwe media industry are starting to feel the heat as Citizen Journalism is slowly gaining momentum with the advent of mobile technologies that allow citizens to produce content.

A debate arose amongst scribes during an Election Resource Centre workshop conducted in Gweru Thursday last week (08/03/18) themed ‘Capacity Building Agenda for Journalists’ where an argument ensued regarding the place of Citizen Journalism in the media industry in Zimbabwe.

“I speak passionately about this profession of journalism, journalists go for years and get trained and we have people wanting to reduce this industry into ‘Citizen Journalism’, I feel there is nothing like Citizen Journalism as much as we cannot speak of citizen doctors, you just can’t do that.

“When they are giving us information it still needs to be verified, the bottom line in journalism that makes us different from everyone else is that we get the questions and we get the answers and it’s a complete story. So I don’t subscribe to this notion of Citizen Journalism,” said one of the scribes who do not conform to the idea.

While one section of the participants deplored the notion of Citizen Journalism, the other said technological revolution has advanced communication methods giving power to the citizens to generate their own content, especially through smart phones which never used to happen before, hence it’s high time the conventional or traditional Journalists found a way to core exist with the Citizen Journalists.

They said the concept is inevitable as it has taken precedence in other countries, developed and the developing, and Zimbabwe is slowly approaching that setting.

Zimbabwe National Editors Forum (ZiNEF) National Coordinator Njabulo Ncube, a Veteran Journalist, said finding a relationship between the two sections is necessary for the industry to develop as things stand, and one cannot do away with the other.

“With the availability of technology, citizens now can report burning issues way faster than the traditional journalist.

“The point here is that this is an idea whose time has come and it would be foolish for us to try and behave like Ostriches and say that Citizen Journalists are encroaching into our territory.

“We should try and find a nexus between Traditional Journalists and Citizen Journalists than to be throwing stones at each other,” said Ncube.

In line with Ncube’s sentiments in building a way forward between the two journalists, internationally acclaimed Professor Saqid Riaz in a paper, says harnessing the strength of the two sides of journalism is best way forward in the process it gives the best news.

“The problem can be solved by gathering the potentials of Citizen Journalism and Traditional media. The mutual cooperation and collaboration of the two types of journalism can produce the best results.

“Both should not be taken as rival rather they should complement each other,” he says.

With the limited outreach of conventional journalists to capture and cover news in the most remote areas coupled with the need to disseminate information timely, members of the community cum ‘Citizen Journalists’ with an idea on how to gather basic information to make news are taking precedence in the newsrooms, giving the conventional journalists a run for their monies in the newsroom.

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