Astrid Dickinson explores the pros and cons of social media enabled citizen journalism:

We are living in the age of the information explosion. Videos, words, pictures, and voices are consistently and instantly accessible and of course news falls into this bracket. This suggests an enriched society, which of course is partly true – we are made aware more quickly than ever of news –­ from terror attacks to Rita Ora’s latest haircut. Whilst a more educated society is exciting, this supernova of information has both been enabled by and is enabling news to be distributed from increasingly different platforms.

Social media, the buzzword of the early noughties, is just one of these new age forums that has opened the chasm of reporting. Yes, this contributes to accountability and transparency but it is not often questioned – what happens when news falls into the wrong hands? An opinion shared on the basis of social popularity rather than on more traditional credentials is a blessing and a curse.

For those of you who don’t have younger siblings, you may be one, or more than likely have witnessed the relationship between two. There is a constant battle of power and pride with the younger usually pushing at the elder to take their place as the dominant counterpart. This is how I would like to see social media – knocking on the door of journalism, ensuring they keep themselves at the top of their game to stop the little one taking their spot, giving social media a clip round the ear when it acts above its station or makes a mistake. This, to me, seems like the perfect combination of removing the monopolisation of news from corporations, whilst remembering that these publications offer an opinion that can be held to account personally, rather than to a keyboard.

But as we all know, nothing in life is perfect. What happens when this little manifestation becomes bigger than ever imagined? This is where we see the possibility of the very fun Uncle, but potentially one you wouldn’t trust to put the children to bed on time. The problem with a mostly unregulated newsreel is that it can fall into the hands of those who have no accountability – 24 hours a day. This source can become trusted but completely unchecked. Whilst this forces more traditional journalistic mediums to provide faster, more accurate reporting, it fuels incorrect, opinion-based facts.

Despite all of this, social media opens up much needed dialogue, a freedom not accessible to our ancestors that we should cherish, not silence. After all, no matter how dysfunctional our family is, everyone has the right to have a say.

Astrid Dickinson is an Account Executive at Storm Communications

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