Citizen Journalism: Participatory News

Extend the concept of citizen journalism to other fields of interest to you by using the prefix of citizen such as “citizen filmmaking,” “citizen games development,” “citizen public relations,” or “citizen advertising.”

The participation of the general public using media and technology to further expand and diffuse a story as a form of news or update of the current world. Citizen journalism is this notion that anyone can participate in the production of news. This concept closely relates to the idea of convergence, collective intelligence, user-generated content, and aspects of transmedia storytelling to further expand our technoculture.

This blog will cover examples, and relations that CJ (citizen journalism) has to offer to other Digital Media concepts. This will however not directly relate to my interest in the cartoon industry but more so the interest of citizen participation on serious concerns. In Paris, France, when I was young, we visited La Centre Pompidou coincidentally to when a PSA event was being displayed outside. This PSA event revolved around the idea of famine, and hunger in Africa. Their technique to advertise this issue was having cardboard cut-outs of silhouettes of people. There were around 100 cut-outs displayed on the square. In this PSA movement, there would be one member near a giant drum, and another walking in between the cut-outs. Then, every four drum hits made, a cut-out would be put down to the floor. This movement displayed how every four seconds a human dies from hunger. This lasted for more than 10 minutes until all of the cut-outs were on the ground.

This was an effective PSA and example of citizen journalism, and can be called citizen advertising. It is the participation of a few to advertise a serious issue of hunger. Also, if this was repeated now, in 2013, with the increase and pervasiveness of smartphones and technology; there would be the effect of transmedia storytelling. Audiences, would record, tweet, take pictures, and further expand the hunger issue throughout platforms of social media, and technology. It is the active participation of the public to further use their converged device into a broader network of mediums to tell a story. Since this PSA was done in 2005, it lacked the resources to spread and further diffuse their word across the world. While trying to find a source of this event, I was only able to find a blogger’s opinion and summary of the event. This PSA would’ve been much more effective if the coordinators introduced a hash-tag phrase for it to go on Twitter. Kony 2012 extensively used a lot of media platforms to do so.

Jason Russel, co-founder and chief creative officer, effectively used the concept of converged media, public participation, and transmedia storytelling to publicize Kony. Kony, the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, uses children in the military and part of his resistance group. Russel, attempts to use the media to help publicize this issue of the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) to the world. Their goal was to see if they could make a war criminal Internet famous by the use of one video. This experiment deemed to work in their favour so well that 3.7 million participants pledged to support this campaign (InvisibleChildren, 2012). Unlike the hunger PSA, the Kony 2012 campaign was much more effective as it involved many audiences to help spread it even further. Kony popularized because of a 30 minute Youtube documentary that addressed him and his motives clearly. Through that video, a lot of Facebook users were able to further publicize the campaign.

I would like to bring up a not so popularized concept, which will relate later back into citizen advertising. This idea is  called a “Facebook Activist”. It is the idea that Facebook users will advertise current issues and affairs from around the world through the use of commenting, liking, and primarily sharing Facebook pages or other websites. It is the act of online protesting, and being an activist on a computer or a media-platform. However, these activists do have a stigma of being a lazy protester who only participates in through Facebook, and not by personally involving themselves. This is a form of using the converged social media, to advertise a concern. Facebook is also a platform of collective intelligence, bringing similar minded people on a website. The reason why Facebook is a collective intelligence website is because of the immense use of networking involved to share ideas. Numerous websites offer a “share” button that will conveniently post the website’s information onto the user’s Facebook profile. It is bringing new information to a centralized platform.


Thanks to the use of Facebook activists, the Kony 2012 campaign exploded and networked through Facebook to the many and unaware users. Thanks to this pervasive campaign, Russel was able to get a lot of participant’s attention to launch a day in which Kony posters will be placed in the public. This was called the “Cover the Night” mini-campaign. It’s when participants, who purchased the Kony posters went out on April 20th, 2012 and hung these posters in public areas to further advertise this issue. This is another example of transmedia storytelling. Taking a campaign onto a Youtube video, then Facebook, and then on posters around cities. In addition, the campaign included Twitter, Google Plus, QR codes, merchandise, posters, conferences, news, Facebook, and documentaries to advertise their campaign.

Citizen journalism has a powerful effect on communities since it helps engage the public to publicize current issues around the world. Through the use of converged media, such as smartphones, QR codes, and social media, citizens are able to collectively advertise the issue on different mediums. Such as centralized social networks, websites that unite information and users together that help share ideas. In addition, the act of publicizing the issue on different platforms revolves the idea of transmedia storytelling. Therefore, issues with gravity are more effectively addressed and handled through citizen advertising and journalism.



Flew, T. (2008). Participatory Media CUltures. In New media: An introduction (3rd ed., pp. 106-125). South Melbourne, Australia: Oxford University Press.

Gladwell, M. (2010, October 4). SMALL CHANGE: Why the revolution will not be tweeted. The New Yorker. Retrieved from

Invisible Children (n.d.). Invisible Children: Media, Mobilization, Protection and Recovery | Invisible Children. Retrieved November 3, 2013, from

TED (2012, December 17). Citizen Journalism is Reshaping the World: Brian Conley at TEDxMidAtlantic [Video file]. Retrieved from

Zengun (2005, October 15). zengun » world hunger. Retrieved November 3, 2013, from


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