Citizen Journalism: When Everyone Can Be a Videographer

Five billion people have smartphones in the world today. More than two billion have the ability to create high-quality video on their phones. Every week, smartphone users create forty million hours of video – while a lot of it gets a bad rep for being cat videos, many people use their mobile phones to film important news events. This is giving rise to a new kind of journalism, where anyone could be filming the next big breaking news story.

We saw how it can be a good thing this past week, with the coverage of the explosion in China’s Tianjin port. People filming on their cell phones caught actual footage of the massive explosions (whose shockwaves were felt as far as six miles away) and showed immediate video and images of the aftermath of the destruction. It was an immediate way to let the world know about the damage and danger present and brought people together across the world and news organizations were able to supplement their coverage with user-created video.

It can also be a good thing when people film police brutality or protests, exposing bad policies and creating safer environments – or after the Boston Marathon bombing when thousands of people uploaded their images and video from the event that helped to eventually identify the bombers.

Today many major news outlets are relying more and more on crowdsourcing coverage of news events. When storms roll in news stations frequently ask people to share images on Twitter of what it looks like where they are. Other organizations like CNN have created entire websites dedicated to citizen journalism.

I mean, really, are we going to start having kids with smartphones be our most reliable news sources?Those who argue against the ubiquity of citizen journalism – or just those people who use their phone to try to record everything – tend to tout safety as one reason journalism should be left to the professionals and why people shouldn’t go out of their way to get a dangerous video just for the YouTube fame. Think about the people taking videos and photos of bison in Yellowstone who were gored, or the man in Spain filming the running of the bulls who was killed.

While we think safety is paramount and don’t want to see people take unnecessary risks to get a good video, the rise of user-created video seems like a good thing to us. And with the availability of high-quality video cameras in so many people’s pockets, it seems likely that citizen journalism will only continue to grow and that many, many other smartphone users will keep recording in the hopes of catching that one big story.

However you feel about citizen video journalists out there in the world, Wispeo is a great tool to get HD video shared from your mobile phones to the people who want and need to see it. Use Wispeo to send all of your video files where you need them to go, and then check back in a couple weeks when the Wispeo iPhone and Android apps will be available.

What are your thoughts? Is having people with a smartphone and an HD video camera in their pocket helping the videography field, or hindering it?

Wispeo is now mobile! Get the easiest way to share videos and photos from your phone in the App Store or from Google Play.

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