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Citizens Cannot Always Be Relied On

Samantha Curry wants to maintain the gatekeeping role of professional journalists. The entire DSTRKT will suffer without it, she warns.

Research shows that nearly 60 per cent of people now use Facebook as a primary news source, while many magazines and newspapers are struggling to distribute print copies. This indicates that following the shift in journalism from print media to online, there is the possibility of an additional shift from professional journalism to citizen journalism.

The rise of citizens being able to act as journalists simply by taking a photo and uploading it, is seen as advantageous to society. Tight controls on whose voices can be heard across the world, have finally been broken down.

But the control mechanisms for separating fact from fiction, verifiable information from mere hearsay, have broken down also – at least in part. The recent uproar around London nightclub DSTRKT exemplifies what can readily go wrong in the new media landscape.

It all began when a clubber posted various messages from a man she claimed was a promoter for the nightclub. The messages contained racist statements, explaining that only girls of a lighter skin-colour would be able to enter the club. There were further messages which went on to suggest that overweight girls would also be barred because they were not in keeping with the club’s  image.

Following the messages that the clubber uploaded on Twitter, which were viewed and shared by thousands of users, the club received extremely bad press. Celebrities such as Tinchy Stryder and Karrueche Tran voiced their disappointment in the venue.

Furthermore, as the simple tweet from the clubber on Twitter circulated further, a protest was held outside the venue with the slogan ‘Do I Look DSTRKT?’

But discrimination on these grounds was never club policy – only the views of a single promoter only loosely connected to the club.

Although the clubber has since deleted all content she posted concerning these allegations, the impression given continues to harm the reputation of the club. This is a clear instance of how the values and habits associated with professional journalism, i.e. looking for corroboration, aiming for verification, are sorely missed in the turn towards citizens doing it all for themselves.

To sum up, although citizen journalism may allow members of the community to be involved in the process of producing professional journalism, on its own it is no substitute for the painstaking work of the professionals.

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