Due to the developments of applications and social networks such as Instagram and Facebook, more and more individuals are capturing photographs and posting them to either personal or professional profiles. While the act of sharing photos can be seen as beneficial to society, I believe there is a clear line between what is authentic and what is not. With that said, I believe the concept of citizen journalism or simple photo-sharing has become entirely subjective over the years. A photograph of a riot at professional football game may be considered journalistic and ‘news’ to one photographer, whereas it could be interpreted as an “unruly mob” to the average photo-taker in the stands.
To begin with citizen journalism as a broad topic, I think it’s important to understand a little bit more about photojournalism on a smaller scale. I believe photojournalism holds a much more educational connotation; in other words, photojournalism connects back to society, institutions and intends to affect society in some way, shape, or form. This can be further explained in Mini Cameras and Maxi Minds by Gregory Paschalidis. He claims, “The aim is to acknowledge photojournalism’s proper institutional, sociological, and ideological context, to accurately and adequately identify the forces and factors shaping the evolution of it’s types, practice and values as a form of journalism,” (Paschalidis 646). I find this ideal to be rather compelling simply based on the fact that Paschalidis defines photojournalism as something of a higher value than I originally perceived. At the same time, he also claims that photojournalism has a “direct relevance to the history of citizen photojournalism, which seems to waver equally precariously between the history of amateur photography and that of amateur journalism,” (Paschalidis 646).
When I think of amateur photography, one of the first things that comes to my mind is applications and web-based programs, specifically Instagram. While professional photographers can certainly post to Instagram, the media I consume consists of amateurs attempting to look ‘artsy’ for the means of likes. With that said, users are continually using filters and retouching photographers to make them appear ‘better’ or ‘prettier’ than what they originally are. However, I believe this starts quite the debate between what is authentic and genuine content and what is not. While I cannot say that I have never used a filter, I attempt to keep them to a minimum whenever I post. On the other end, certain users will edit the photo to make it seem even more authentic and perceivably ‘real.’ As mentioned in the reading New Images on Instagram by Eddy Borges-Rey, “moving and still images are compelling and ‘judged to be more authentic’ because they are ‘dim, grainy and shaky, but more importantly, because they document an angle to an event as it was actually happening,” (Borges-Rey 574). Bouncing off of this, I think it’s safe to assume that users will view a photo on Instagram and immediately make a judgement based on authenticity. This choice can determine if the photograph gets a ‘like’ or not, which in terms of social media, determines popularity. This idea really made me think – to my knowledge, people like things on Instagram that seem aesthetically-pleasing. However, I believe that users are subconsciously liking based on authenticity with growing access to many photo and media platforms.
All in all, I return to my original thought – the concept of photojournalism and amateur photography are both entirely subjective. In relation to citizen journalism and journalistic writing, it is important to consider authenticity in what you are producing in order to gage a larger following, and therefore a potentially larger reaction. Through both of these readings, I have definitely gained the ability to think appropriately and thoroughly before clicking the “Post” button.
Borges-Rey, E. (2015). News Images on Instagram. Digital Journalism,3(4), 571-593. doi:10.1080/21670811.2015.1034526
Paschalidis, G. (2015). Mini Cameras and Maxi Minds. Digital Journalism,3(4), 634-652. doi:10.1080/21670811.2015.1034529