JOURNALISTS’ PERCEPTION OF THE CREDIBILITY OF CITIZEN JOURNALISM ON SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS

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ABSTRACT

This study focused on journalists’ perception of the credibility of citizen journalism on social media platforms. The population of the study consisted of 308 registered journalists in Uyo. The purposive sampling method was used to select 174 registered journalists as the sample. Data were gathered using the questionnaire from 174 respondents. However, 164 copies were completed and returned valid for the study. The objectives of the study were to: examine how citizen journalism has affected journalists and their profession; highlight the possible threats the credibility of citizen journalism pose to journalism practice; find out how professional journalists perceive the credibility of citizen journalism and to find out why credibility is a major issue in citizen journalism. Findings from the study reveal that citizen journalism lacked credibility and professional journalists felt this fact was enough reason for citizen journalists not to assume their jobs. The researcher recommended that citizen journalists must be guided to follow ethics of journalism if they must disseminate information on social media platforms.

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1.1        Background to the Study

The advent of the new media (internet) has given anyone and everyone the power and right to disseminate news to the rest of the world. Through the User Generated Content (UGC) which is internet-driven, user-generated source of information known as citizen journalism has become a recent catchphrase, sending waves of worry throughout the mainstream media. Citizens have stepped, or rather charged, into the news and information realm and are doing quite a good job attracting an absurd amount of attention from the public.

Usually, people without training, expertise or academic knowledge of news gathering and dissemination are not allowed to become journalists in the mainstream media. The internet has changed all that, people without qualification have become newsmen/women  as long as they have their smartphones and computers in their hands and internet connection, they use these tools of advanced technology to send news across the world ( anyone in the world can access the information they send). Jenkins, 2006) and threatening to undermine the gatekeeping function so central to the professional purpose of the press.

Credibility online has become an important topic since the emergence of the internet. This is because the web has increasingly become an information resource. According to Wikipedia, Potential false news reports are just one of the many possible ramifications of sourcing news from anonymous sources. The news could be factually correct, but have flaws like blatant disregard of ethics, lack of objectivity, impartiality and balance. It could also be a hidden agenda or opinion sugarcoated as fact or a libelous or defamatory statement that puts subjects in the story in bad light. In mainstream media, a process of verification and checks called gate-keeping can weed out any such inaccuracies and biases. Gate keeping, so its called, is done by experienced and trained journalists and editors, using tools and skills like knowledge of the law and in house or commercial stylebooks such as the Associated Press, this helps to strengthen the credibility of the source of such news report.

There are three aspects of credibility: clarity (how easily the article can be understood), accuracy (how well documented the information is), and trustworthiness (how believable the information is).Credibility is very  necessary  in the effectiveness of  reporting news, professional or otherwise. Mainstream news media networks spend time and effort building their credibility and use it every day when they report news.  Credibility is important to journalists because, as disseminators and interpreters of news, they need to maintain a trustworthy relationship with their audience. However, because of the nature of citizen journalism, credibility is not really checked and valued by citizen journalists, their major aim is just to disseminate information about events online as speedily as possible, most citizen journalists don’t bother to check how truthful or factual their reports are unlike professional journalists.