Learning Exercise

Citizen Journalism

Today's journalism efforts are expanding through crowdsourcing. THis activity explains citizen journalism, crowdsourcing, and asks students to critique a crowdsourcing entry. Students discuss citizen journalism issues.


This article from EduCause explains citizen journalism, its issues, and implications in education. see more


1. Ask students to read “7 things you should know about citizen journalism” (https://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7031.pdf)  ahead of class.

2. Lead a class discussion about citizen journalism. Ask students for some examples of citizen journalism (e.g., Arab Spring, call-ins to radio programs, emails or texts to TV stations, letters to the editor).

3. Explain that media outlets increasingly use crowdsourcing to engage their market and obtain more news. Show the class the video https://www.commoncraft.com/video/crowdsourcing

4. Lead a class discussion about social media (Web 2.0). Ask students for examples of social media (e.g., blogs, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, YouTube, Foursquare). “What is the possible role of social media in citizen journalism?” Further explain the role of social media by showing the class the video https://www.commoncraft.com/video/social-media.

5. Explain that the class will be creating blog entries to crowdsource information about citizen journalism. For the class, walk through https://support.google.com/blogger/answer/1623800?hl=en.

6. Review (using the projector or a print copy) formats of a news story: http://spcollege.libguides.com/c.php?g=254319&p=1695314

7. Divide the class into small groups. Assign one of the following articles to each group, and ask them to write a 100 word news story that summarizes the content, and post it onto the class blog.
a. http://www.pbs.org/mediashift/2006/09/your-guide-to-citizen-journalism270/
b. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-03-27/periscope-s-future-of-citizen-journalism-tested-on-its-first-day
c. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-03-27/periscope-s-future-of-citizen-journalism-tested-on-its-first-day
d. http://www.journalism.org/resources/principles-of-journalism/
e. http://journalism.about.com/od/citizenjournalism/tp/goodcitizenjournalism.htm
f. http://journalism.about.com/od/SportsJournalism/a/Want-To-Get-Your-Start-In-Sports-Journalism-Cover-The-Local-Teams.htm

8. Ask students to read the class blog entries, and have a few students share their insights in terms of legal and ethical issues.

9. Ask the same groups to select and critique (based on their readings) a citizen journalism media outlet from the list found at http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/List_of_citizen_journalism_websites. Ask them to post their critique on the class blog.

10. Debrief with the class, asking them how their experiences inform them when reading or watching the news. Remind them that the role of citizen journalist is one way to take civic action. Note that citizen scientists serve a similar role in providing data and information to scientists, typically as a crowdsourcing mechanism.

11. Also mention that social media plays a part in workplace improvement; show the class the video https://www.commoncraft.com/video/social-media-and-workplace. Ask them if they might consider being a citizen journalist at some point. If so, how might citizen journalism help them prepare for a professional career in the media?

Technical Notes

Internet-connected computers and projector needed; provide class blogsite or equivalent.


Class set of Internet-connected computers Demonstration Internet-connected computer Projector

Class blog or other online tool (e.g., discussion board)


Citizen journalism


Digital citizenship

Social media

Learning Objectives

Explain the role of a citizen journalist.

Explain how social media impacts the role of a citizen journalist.

Identify ethical and legal issues of citizen journalism.

Analyze writing of citizen journalists.