Syrian citizen journalists: Response to citizen-produced videos incorporated into online content

Embedding content from Syrian citizen journalists: The rise of the collaborative news clip

From Journalism

The rise of the citizen videographer, particularly in the case of Syria, offers an opportunity for news organizations to use this content to provide witness’ immediate observations of, reactions to, and involvement in dramatic – life and death – events. This study considers the ways the New York Times’ (NYT) The Lede live blog has responded to citizen-produced content which has made up much of the blog’s first-hand material about the Syrian uprising that began in 2011 with the start of the Arab Spring. The contention is that citizen videos from the conflict have been used in ways that create a new journalistic element: the collaborative news clip, a news form that is unlike existing attributed information in mainstream print or broadcast news. Syria repeatedly shut out international reporters, which made covering the country exceptionally dangerous for foreign journalists who often had to enter the country illegally if they wanted to report from there. At the same time, Syria’s domestic news media, historically hamstrung by the government, has become increasingly a propaganda attack machine. Thus, much of the reporting of the conflict that appears in the international news media has fallen to amateurs.


The ways the New York Times has incorporated citizen videos from the Syrian conflict into its live blog, The Lede, is explored in this article. The analysis reveals the creation of a new journalistic element – the Collaborative News Clip – in which ordinary people are now producing immersive, emotional, multidimensional self-created videncorporated  into online content. The Collaborative News Clip is created through joint framing and shared gatekeeping by a tier of citizen-activists working with a professional news organization.

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Article details
Melissa Wall and Sahar El Zahed
Embedding content from Syrian citizen journalists: The rise of the collaborative news clip Journalism 1464884914529213, first published on April 23, 2014 doi:10.1177/1464884914529213



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