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The effects of citizen journalism on the ethics of journalism : the case of the Marikana Massacre and the #FeesMustFall movement.

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Citizen journalism has for many years, been conceived as a new phenomenon of the twenty-first century, whereas, it has been around long before this period. Due to the creation of the internet and the readiness and accessibility of technology, the general public has drastically been exposed to various ways of communicating and engaging with news. This often includes the capability of reporting breaking news at a swifter speed than the average professional journalist. The profession of journalism has been significantly affected by the overwhelming phenomena of citizen journalism because professional journalists have to write, edit and crosscheck news at a far more rapid pace. Thus, placing pressure on the profession of journalism and its ethics. Citizen journalism is undeniably a heavily appreciated tool of the present-day as it enables a free flow of news content. This makes it possible to cover the majority of events happening around the world that professional journalists might miss out on. This might be a problem because from an ethical point of view, citizen journalism also presents news content that is unregulated and haphazard in quality and coverage. While this challenge is immense, research on its implications to the profession of journalism and its ethics is minimal. The existing literature focuses on the new and advanced technological way of newsgathering, its production and dissemination with a lack of emphasis on journalism ethics. The current study seeks to examine how citizen journalism affects the ethics of journalism. This is done with the use of the ethical theory of consequentialism. The theory is used to explore and evaluate the consequences of the activities taking place in the use of social media platforms as a source of information and news coverage. The study uses the case of the Marikana massacre and the #FeesMustFall movement as classic examples of how citizen journalism affects the ethics of the profession of journalism.


Master of Arts in Philosophy. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, 2019.