#Opinion: Fifth Estate Killing Professional Journalism

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Technological developments across the globe have seen the the birth of a new kind of Journalism known as Citizen Journalism.

From the Click of a button or touch of a pad, one can now Mass Communicate, something that used to be a preserve of the mainstream print and electronic media.  

By TechnoMag Reporter 

Citizen Journalism is at times referred to as the 5th Estate and it has seem millions of Zimbabweans taking to social media platforms to express their views. Authors and academics believe social media is the new public sphere, unlike the traditional arena whereby people would convene in public places or make use of newspapers’ letters to the editor sections to express their views.

Social media is now a conduit that citizens resort to during times of strife and distress, unpacking their innermost emotions and grievances, a thing the mainstream media can not provide.

Instead of advertising in newspapers or the electronic media, companies now run online social media platforms where they sale their goods and services.

On the news side, Citizen Journalism is now giving professional Journalists a run for their money as they find it hard to compete with online blogs and pages in terms of breaking scoops and hard hitting news.

The professional media operates under an environment that is highly regulated and the legislative framework clearly spells out the proper code of conduct for journalists and failure to adhere to these rules and regulations attract punitive penalties from regulating houses like the Zimbabwe Media Commission.

with the advent of phones and mobile applications citizen journalism has rendered professional journalism redundant.

with the advent of phones and mobile applications citizen journalism has rendered professional journalism redundant.

Unlike the mainstream media, the 5th Estate knows no master and reports to nobody. Nobody defines ethical Journalism for this industry, its a do as you please republic where no one answer to nobody.  This has led to to some rather irresponsible practices by  citizen journalists.

Some argue that citizen journalism is the voice of the voiceless as they get to share and talk about the stories and issues that are affecting the everyday person and those stories that are considered taboo and people can not talk about them easily.

The hashtags which have since trended on social media like the #ArabSpring, #Brexit, #ThisFlag, #TotalShutDownZim2016, #ThisGown some could argue that all this was a good cause. There were some clips and images of Twin tower 9/11 attacks that got to see the light of day because someone with a mobile phone decided to capture what was happening.

In addition, the increasing presence, speed and accessibility of advanced cellular phones and other media sharing devices has allowed citizen journalists to report on breaking news not only to a larger, global, audience, but also more quickly than traditional news reporters. Many believe this form of news coverage is fundamental to Journalism today; citizens’ being relatable, unrestricted and available to capture images and footage of worldwide news as it breaks.

We have since had so many hoax messages on WhatsApp with people spreading news that a certain celebrity has passed on due to an accident or something and the public relations team issuing out statements to tell the public that no such thing had happened.
Others have gone to the extent of simply posting pictures of accidents that happened way back and claim that the accidents just happened causing panic within the society. Then you wonder if we really can not put this gadget to better use that all this hogwash.
Yesterday, WhatApp was awash with stories of the just released bond notes by the Reserve Bank of  Zimbabwe. One message had the story of a Malawian national who took out a knife at the Shamva/Mutoko tollgate after the cashier had given him $15 change in bond coins. The other message which was circulating on WhatsApp was talking about long jail terms for people who are mocking the new currency.

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