Participatory Journalism as described in Understanding a New Phenomenon (Quandt 2011) refers to not just user-generated content but rather how it influences news agenda and how it is utilized by the media in connection with community communication and public debate. Over time, journalism has evolved from a traditional position of power to communicate with society, to one that can now be involved in democratic communication between the media and the public as well as be a platform for the public to communicate to the public.
The results from interviews with journalists done by Quandt (2011) indicate the environment in which journalists work from can influence attitudes towards participatory journalism. Quandt identified two opposing positions in the debate on participatory journalism, the “Journalism Traditionalists” who were against participatory journalism and the “Participatory Evangelists” who supported it. Journalism traditionalists perceived it as a threat or as devaluing journalism as a profession which may cause a loss of trust in the media in the public. However, editors and journalists still hold the position to serve as gate-keepers of information to the public and in many cases prove to be the most trust-worthy sources as people turn to traditional media for reliable information (Lasica 2003). Take Wikipedia for example, one of the largest encyclopedia based websites providing content created by participatory journalists, although it is not always regarded as a reliable source (Lih 2004), notably in academic articles. In a hyper-complex society, it is difficult for journalists to supply content on demand by themselves for such a wide range of different information needs that are continuously evolving. This complication can lead to bias reports due to either the beliefs of the journalist and/or the institution or sensationalized stories being chosen to gain a greater audience.
Overall, I believe that having a ‘relationship’ between journalists and the public promotes positive growth in societal communication. Inclusion of and adapting to the use of participatory journalism is beneficial to a democratic society as social technology is continuously growing and those who do not adapt may be left behind.
Quandt, T 2011, ‘Understanding a new phenomenon: the significance of participatory journalism’ Chapter 9 in Herminda et al Participatory Journalism, Wiley Blackwell, pp155-176.
Lasica, J.D 2003, ‘Blogs and Journalism Need Each Other ‘, Nieman Reposts, vol 57.3 2003, pg 70-74, accessed 5/4/13, via http://www.ufrgs.br/limc/participativo/pdf/need.pdf
Lih, A 2004, ‘Wikipedia as Participatory Journalism: Reliable Sources? Metrics for evaluatin collaborative media as a news resource’, acsessed 5/4/13, via http://www.ufrgs.br/limc/participativo/pdf/wikipedia.pdf