Social media news usually garners the impression from many as being inaccurate and largely biased. The reason for this is simple. Give your everyday citizens the power to play the role of a professional journalist and it should come to no surprise to anyone that some of the articles being posted on STOMP will turn out to be extremely one-sided and somewhat petty at times.
Quoting from Peter Horrocks’ article ‘Citizen Journalism is added-value journalism’. He says ‘Buried among the comments, however, were insights from those who had met Benazir or knew her. And there were valuable eyewitness comments from people who were at the scene in Rawalpindi. Our team that deals with user content shifted through the chaff to find some excellent wheat.”
It will be wrong for anyone to assume that articles being contributed by “citizen journalists” do not hold as much editorial value in them as compared to mainstream articles. This is not necessary true. As quoted earlier from Peter Horrocks’ article, comments from these STOMPers are highly regarded as valuable insights. The recent murder case involving the death of Darren Ng shows the power of participatory journalism of STOMPers. When the news initially broke out in mainstream newspapers, it was reported as a simple staring incident leading to the death of the 19 year-old teenager. STOMP covered the story in a similar angle as well; attracting more than 500 STOMPers flooding their comments right after the article was posted. STOMPers began to dig and discuss further about Darren Ng’s death with related blog links revealing more names within the commentary section of the article. Readers then found out more about the victim’s background and that Darren himself isn’t as simple and innocent as what people had initially thought. Following that, mainstream newspapers then started to investigate further and uncover the real truth behind the murder case, which actually was a gang fight rather than a staring incident.
Without the insights contributed by these STOMPers, the truth may take a longer time or never be uncovered. The added-value journalism contributed by the citizens allows further disclosure of information not covered by mainstream newspapers. The quality of these inputs by STOMPers may vary from person to person. Some people may have nothing other than their emotional opinions while others may genuinely have valuable insights on the incident. Darren Ng’s case was a recent example that supports Peter Horrocks’ theory on Citizen Journalism is Added-value Journalism.