How Twitter Took Citizen Journalism to New Heights

The focus of this blog entry will be regarding the emergence of citizen journalism, due to the emergence of social media, specifically Twitter. Citizen journalism, as defined by Bruns and Highfield in ‘The produsage of citizen journalism’,  “refers to an assemblage of broadly journalistic activities (“random acts of journalism”) which are characterized by specific practical and technological affordances: they draw on the voluntary contributions of a wide- ranging and distributed network of self-selected participants rather than on the paid work of a core team of professional staff, and they utilize Internet technologies to coordinate the process.” (Bruns & Highfield, 2012).

The key factors in this definition are centered on random acts of journalism, involving voluntary contributions, and they use of Internet technologies to coordinate the process. Knowing these three key elements, it is clear to see why Twitter has really helped escalade citizen journalism. Being connected to social media sites, such as Twitter, allow you to be mere seconds away from connecting with the entire world. Report news as it happens directly through twitter, with a camera inside the app, and 140 characters to attract the attention of followers to your report.


In his captivating article ‘Reinventing Participation: Civic Agency and the Web Environment’ Dahlgren states when speaking of citizen journalism “In more recent years, the net and its ancillary technologies, such as mobile phones and the platforms for social media, have further extended this transformation” (Dahlgren, 2012). Clearly, the emergence of social media monster Twitter, has brought citizen journalism to heights it has never reached before. More evidence provided by Bruns and Highfield discuss the same stating citizen journalism occurs “through the collaboration of dispersed networks of individuals using a shared underlying social media platform such as Twitter.” (Burns & Highfield, 2012).

Never has a platform provided users with a means to provide citizen journalism with such ease. It pertains to all forms of journalism whether through sporting events, traffic news, crime reports, or political discussion, Twitter allows any individual to reach the masses in 140 characters or less. All the key principles of citizen journalism defined earlier are made easier by the emergence of Twitter. Random acts of journalism occur frequently on twitter as people use tweeting as a response to all of life’s crazy occurrences. Clearly the use of Twitter is voluntary by its users, therefore it meets the standards of voluntary contributions, and finally the technology used to coordinate the process, is Twitter.

Quoted in a 2003 Jenkins and Thorburn article Jonah Seiger, cofounder of Mindshare Internet Campaigns states, when speaking of citizen journalism, “The evolution of the Internet and politics is going to happen a lot more slowly than people expect.”. (Jenkins & Thorburn, 2003) Seiger was absolutely right stating this, as it did not happen simultaneously. The emergence of Twitter as worldwide social media phenomena allows citizen journalism to happen effortlessly on a day-to-day basis, through the ease Twitter provides, connecting to the entire world with a simple flip of the cell phone, allows for politics (among other aspects) and the internet to be intertwined.

In my personal opinion, everyone who owns a Twitter account is involved in citizen journalism. Whether its simply taking pictures of a car crash on your way home, or reporting your attendance to a major event, you are voluntarily providing random acts of journalism. Therefore, since I have a Twitter account, I provide my own personal journalism to all my followers daily, and will continue to do so in order to contribute my journalistic input to society.


Bruns, A. & T. Highfield. (2012). Blogs, Twitter, and breaking news: The produsage of citizen journalism. pre-publication draft on personal site. Published in: Lind, R. A. ed. (2012). Produsing Theory in a Digital World: The Intersection of Audiences and Production. New York: Peter Lang. p15-32.

Dahlgren, P. (2012). Reinventing Participation: Civic Agency and the Web Environment. Geopolitics, History, and International Relations , 4(2), 27-45.

Jenkins, H., & Thorburn, D. (2003). The digital revolution, the informed citizen, and the culture of democracy. (pp. 1-17). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

*Image Courtesy of Purchased Microsoft Office


5 thoughts on “How Twitter Took Citizen Journalism to New Heights

  1. What’s interesting on how dependent traditional journalism outlets like the news now depend so highly on Twitter. Whether it’s gathering information using Twitter, or updating their viewers/readers with Twitter, it’s become a vital part of journalism across the board these days. That’s another reason why I think more traditional outlets are in decline – they are providing a service that is already fulfilled by Twitter and other online means, but providing it much more slowly.

  2. I quite enjoyed your post, you made some great points. Twitter is definitely the source of citizen journalism that people prefer to use. I remember hearing about the plane landing in the Hudson River, which was first reported on twitter. However, as I mentioned in my blog, that resources like the newspaper should never go out of date. By that I mean Twitter cannot be as reliable as sources as the newspaper, and the 140 character limit is affecting users English oppose to the paper where it is a great resource for practicing grammar and spelling. People should not only rely only on social media but research and educate them themselves on what is happening in the world.

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  5. I do really like Twitter and think that social media is becoming a thing of the future and traditional media is becoming a thing of the past, altought I think that traditional journalists are needed. I have had a twitter account and I do not use it for journalism but use it to read my favourite peoples (not friends) tweets and their status updates. This is bad to say but I really do not care that my friend is going out to lunch. I am interested in what my favourite tennis stars are doing and how they feel after a tennis match. I cannot talk to them personally so twitter provides this information for me which I find exciting. I am still skeptical about facts and reliable information on social media sites.

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