By Kenya Sinclair
Citizens now have access to more journalism tools than ever before – but is it a good thing?
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) – The world was shocked when Diamond Reynolds used her smartphone to live-stream the aftermath of her boyfriend, Philandro Castile, being shot and killed by a police officer.
Though an officer shooting dead a suspect seated in a vehicle is shocking in itself, what really stunned was Reynolds’ decision to stream the video rather than call an ambulance or attempt to talk the officer down.
Reynolds’ controversial decision hasn’t stopped some from seeing the ability to live-stream video as a great tool to keep people, such as the police, accountable for their actions.
According to Yahoo! News, Jeff Achen, the executive editor of the Minnesota nonprofit group The UpTake, which trains citizen journalists, believes smartphones allow media to be shared everywhere and when people share stories from their individual perspectives, the information “can be very valuable.”
Achen believes social media platforms like Periscope, YouTube and Facebook Live “will become more prevalent.
He added: “Everyone is going to make it routine. They will take out their cellphones whenever a police officer pulls over and does something.”
While the use of smartphones to live-stream events can help put an end to police brutality and illegal actions, many believe the trend can also empower citizen journalists to share several angles of the same story.
Dan Gillmor, an Arizona State University professor and author of a book on citizen journalism, said Reynolds “changed our perception of media” and added, “We all have an obligation to witness and record some things even if we are not directly part of what’s happening.”
According to AFP, Valerie Belair-Gagnon, head of the Yale University Information Society Project and incoming professor of journalism at the University of Minnesota, explained: “technology [prompts] us to be aware that citizens can contribute journalism in certain ways.
“In the shift we are seeing since 2004, citizen media is becoming fully integrated to journalism….For me, it’s a positive story because journalists are not the only gatekeepers.
“The fact that the public or citizens are able to gather information and distribute it to the public provides an opportunity for richer storytelling.”