5 lessons on citizen journalism


How would you like to be called “the most famous citizen journalist of modern times?” 

The man who changed the way the news is reported — and propelled Twitter to the front line of breaking news —is Janis Krums (pronounced Yanis Krooms). He’s the guy who snapped a picture of U.S. Airways Flight 1549 sitting in the Hudson River on a frigid January day in 2009.  You probably recall “Captain Sulley” and the 155 passengers who were rescued. 

I just interviewed Krums about the “Miracle on the Hudson” experience. He told me he was on a ferry to New Jersey when the plane went down. As the ferry embarked on the scene to help, Krums saw the other passengers taking pictures with their cell phones and technology. He thought he should, too. He humbly told me it’s not his picture that changed the perception and use of social media and citizen journalism; it’s the fact that he tweeted it. 

Here are five lessons and insights from Krums about the evolution of social and traditional media, and where we are heading:   

1. Citizen journalists will always be at the right place at the right time with the right tools. The difference is they must have the skill to use them. Once something is happening, it’s too late to be learning the tools. I had the tools to spread the message and knew how to use them. If you have the ability to spread the message, you have the power.

2. News will be reported, no matter what. The way it’s being reported is continuing to evolve. Traditional journalists will always be second on the scene from now on, especially in the developed world. That’s because more people have i-Phones, smart phones and video capability.

3. Traditional media is evolving. The tools that were used before are just not going to be used in the future. I think journalists are embracing social media. They are just figuring out what’s going to stick in the next five years.

4. I had a very modest following on Twitter of less than 200 people. I thought there was a public forum, and I should Tweet the picture because it could be valuable.  At that point Twitter wasn’t very mainstream, so I didn’t see how big it could become. I didn’t send the picture to CNN or Fox. I just sent it to the followers I had on Twitter. And from there it spread. I don’t think newspapers, journalists, and news organizations were using Twitter as a source quite yet. It was pretty new. At that moment, I saw the value in what it was, but I didn’t see the value of what it could become. I don’t think anyone could see that it could be spread around the world the way it was.

5. The younger generation is consuming news not through Television or newspapers, but through the Internet. People now interact with their news. You can get into an online community and start talking about a topic. It makes it special for people once they figure out how to use it. The new generation wants to share and have their opinions out there. If a reporter misses something in a story, a commentator can say, “Hey, you missed this”, or “add that”, and it becomes a living story.  Before, it was “This is how it is and you don’t get a change until an update later on.” Now it becomes a living story and not static.

Today, everyone has a press pass.

Your thoughts?




Comments are closed.