Start making sense: a three-tier approach to citizen journalism
The rise of citizen journalism has been a central theme in both popular and scholarly discourse surrounding the evolution of news making over the past half-decade. This article considers citizen journalism emerging from the Syrian Civil War. It describes the “two-tier” model of citizen journalism, in which amateur producers expose new truths via online technologies and mainstream media sources echo a small proportion of this information. The author emphasizes however, the reality of a different, three-tier approach to citizen journalism that has become particularly central with regards to Syria and offers a model for other similarly complex situations. In this system, a middle “interpreter tier” comprised of semi-professional online journalists plays the crucial role of mediating between Syrian citizen journalists and mainstream outlets. Without a robust interpreter class, mistakes threaten to diminish the tremendous potential of citizen journalism.
This commentary considers citizen journalism emerging from the Syrian Civil War and argues that its usefulness is dependent on an “interpreter tier” of user-generated media analysts. In contrast to discourse celebrating more direct forms of citizen journalism, the piece emphasizes the importance of intermediary layers of meaning-making as the means by which complex fields of amateur information can be made intelligible. This “interpreter tier,” although often ignored in popular and scholarly discourse, takes on an increasingly important function as mainstream sources must increasingly rely on citizen materials produced in far off places.
Start making sense: a three-tier approach to citizen journalism Media, Culture & Society July 2014 36: 691-701, first published on June 9, 2014 doi:10.1177/0163443714527567