In the past, people who held power kept it through the use of superior technology. It started when nomadic tribes came together under the control of a small few who owned farms. Then power was taken by those who had the best weapons, and kept by the people who controlled the flow of information. Unknowingly, innovation in the control and storage of information has ultimately led to a great destabilising in the hierarchy of power. With writing came the printing press. With electricity came telegrams and telephones, and later on radio and television. With the internet came citizen journalism.
The resurgence in right-wing politics in Western government and the ever increasing instability in the Middle East has created a sense of unease and insecurity throughout the world. This rising fear has forced two different reactions from society as a whole; an emotional and an intellectual. Emotionally, many have reacted to things seemingly innocuous, such as somebody having a different opinion to theirs, or immediately reacting to an article they read the headline of but weren’t bothered investigating further. But that’s a blog post for another time. The more internet savvy produsers engage in what is now known as citizen journalism. This form of independent research and reporting can throw things into the spotlight that otherwise would not have been seen by the greater outside world, such as drone footage of conflict in Syria or Turkey. There are more accurate battlefield maps of which forces are where and controlling what on Reddit than are published by any military organisation or news outlet in the world. All of this is the work of citizen journalists.
With the whole world sitting in our pocket, and all social media hell bent on getting their users to document and share their lives with the internet, the rise of citizen journalism was inevitable. The impact of this new phenomenon is more prevalent on Twitter than anywhere else. Live coverage of natural disasters, political events, Adele concerts and how many steps little baby Brian took today are all processed through the rapids of the Twitter feed, which is why professional journalists love promoting their Twitter handle every time they show up on the news. This newfound freedom has left many politicians afraid that they can no longer beguile and misdirect the same people who elected them into power, which has lead to many discussions on the regulations and segregations on who has the right to what online. But despite the realised fears of power hungry politicians the world over, no law they impose can truly restrict the flow of information. No looming threat of a publicised internet history or wiretapping by government intelligence operations can stop the onward march of the citizen journalist.