What is media? And what is news? With the fast-paced development of new communication technologies the media landscape is changing. Media and news are not only created and diffused by professional journalists anymore, but also by citizens from all layers of society and from all corners of the world. When we blog, tweet or write a facebook message about events or themes that we find important to discuss, we are creating citizen media.
I work for the international citizen media news site Global Voices Online, whose mission is to represent the underrepresented, promote the freedom of speech online and present a local perspective on local events (as opposed to the perspective that global news agencies present). Global Voices volunteers from the entire world collect and organize citizen media (such as blog posts, tweets, facebook messages etc.) from their own regions and publish contextualized articles that present these citizens' perspectives on local events and topics.
So what's so good about citizen media as opposed to traditional media? Well, with citizen media we - the ordinary citizens - get a voice. We get to decide what events and topics have news relevance to us and our community. We get to speak our minds and comment on discussions that are taking place online and to which we have an opinion. Citizen media represent a more democratized type of journalism and news than the one the traditional media represent.
Last week I was invited to Global Voices bi-annual Summit in Nairobi, Kenya. At this summit more than 170 volunteers from more than 60 countries were represented and took part in presentations, discussions and panels about the new media landscape and its advantages and challenges. We discussed everything from internet security, online censorship and underrepresented languages to objectivity, the effects of citizen media in social movements and much more.
So how can you take part in the citizen media revolution? Well, if there are topics or events that are important to you, and that you feel like the mainstream media ignore, you should start expressing your thoughts on this online. Tweet, blog or start a facebook group and get your friends and family to participate in the discussion. The world is online, so tell it what's on your mind!