Why citizen reporters do what they do

At the Neo-journalism conference, Manuela Farinosi a post-doc at the Università di Udine presented her research into the motivations behind citizens who gathered and shared news following the 2009 quake in L’Aquila close to Rome.

For the study, there were 20 in-depth interviews with the most active citizen contributors.

The most common motivation was related to mainstream media coverage in Italy. The citizens said they felt media reporting was incomplete and pro-government. So frustration at what was seen as poor journalism motivated citizens.

The second reason was a desire to make the voice of the people heard. Again, citizens sought to provide a detailed picture of what was happening on the ground.

The third motivation was a desire to share information with the local community. For the citizens, it was about prompting a debate among residents, rather than reaching a wider national or international audience.

But the citizen reporters were hampered by a lack of resources and visibility in an ecosystem dominated by mainstream media.

Essentially, said Farinosi, citizens sought to bypass mainstream media, using ready-made platforms such as YouTube and construct an alternative public sphere.



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