The Era Of Community Journalism!

Era | Journalism | 23rd August 2021 | Virtual Wire

To understand community journalism, we must first need to define a community. A community is a group of people who have something in common like sexuality, nationality, religion, language, ethnicity, profession, hobby, disease, etcetera.

The in-depth reporting of local news that centres around the lives of the community fall under the category of community journalism. These stories set the agenda for community development and draw attention towards the people who are neglected and harassed.

Community Journalism aims to find solutions to the underlying problem of a community and empowers the community. A community journalist does not simply observes and reports the issues but lives through them.

The significance of community journalism can be understood by the fact that it gives journalists and reporters an opportunity to cover stories that are closely knit with people’s daily lives and get their perspectives on the same. Practising community journalism also helps in the diversity of news sources and gives the common people a platform to discuss issues related to a particular community.

Community journalism can also benefit news organizations in providing them with ideas for authentic news stories rather than sensational reporting on vague topics. The concept of community journalism can be equated with the democratization of journalism. With the technological advancements, this democratization has sped up.

Community journalism may or not be practised by professional journalists, but one thing that is common is the mission to convey accurate information which is intimate, personal, and community-centric. They can be human interest stories, public interest stories, stories that revolve around an issue that is highly localized which might be overlooked by the mainstream media.

One of the primary reasons behind the development and rise of community journalism is that the people and marginalized communities started feeling that their representation in the media was not proportionate.

The mainstream media either overrepresented a specific community and underrepresented the other or painted a picture of the community that did not reflect the actual situation of the community.

In the modern world, when the communities are united way more than any other time, the rise of community journalism should not be taken as a surprise. Community journalism, though it appears simple.

one must not forget that it does not divert from the principles of journalistic ethics which are accountability, fairness, and truthfulness. With this being said, one must understand the difference between a news story and information.

Sharing content on social media does not necessarily mean that one is a community journalist. Because for grassroots journalism, one must have an understanding of the importance of telling stories along with a sense of responsibility to tell the stories of the community ethically that reflects their realities and experiences.

It requires a lot of courage to confront the power and make the administration focus on your community by using various media platforms and giving voice to those who often remain unheard.

Community journalists can either be ordinary citizens who cover extraordinary events or semiprofessionals who fill in the gaps of conventional professional news coverage and community journalism.

One such example which originally was a community journalism story that got transitioned into an international news story was capturing the murder of African-American man George Floyd by the American police.

This was captured by a vigilant citizen Darnella Frazier on 25 May 2020. She was courageous and thought the African-American community’s voice should be heard which compelled her to post the video on Facebook and tell the truth to the world.

Hence, ethics must not be compromised, and the community must identify with the story as news and not just information. Therefore, community journalism should be rigorous, thoughtful, competent, and ethical. However, it should be kept that different community journalism practices might differ from culture to culture and community.

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