Tuesday, July 12, 2016

When Citizen Journalism Goes Bad and Inadvertently Rallies the Cyberbullies


The pitchforks still rise when the shot is newsworthy and the intention is pure.

The fallout for the subjects of citizen journalists can be devastating. It goes well beyond the Twitter trolls when mob mentality takes over and vigilante justice reins its ugly head. This is not what the citizen journalist intended. Maybe they did try to out someone's potential bad behavior. But in the case of this elderly woman, who seemed to skip out on her taxi fare at the video's glance, was not the story at all.

Here's another example from public transit and the website STOMP.

In many cases, a simple headline, especially a clickbait headline, is all it takes to destroy a reputation.

There are many cases when vigilantes rose up to wield their shields of justice when no action was needed. The intention of the citizen was to make the public aware of something, show a crazy mistake, or something that may have seemed kind of funny at the time.

We do need citizen journalists more and more these days, so this trend towards ganging up on a subject is more than just a tad disturbing. It may deter someone from reporting a story when there is no journalist around, when the citizen journalist is needed more than ever.