Citizen journalists are, of course, nothing of the sort. They may well be citizens but rarely, if ever, journalists. Not for them the concentrated studies that led to their first understanding of the craft, or the ever deeper experience of using words and punctuation to convey a truth or at least a version of it.
But the citizen journalist as photographer is a different animal.
Assuming he/she can acquire a timely and arresting image that is in focus, this can become an important tool in the constant search for what is real. Robin Laurance, a photojournalist writing in the Royal Society of Arts Spring Journal underlines the importance of honest and unedited photos when he says: “We have, in pictures, a means of communicating stories in a powerful and immediate way.”
Laurance makes the point that you cannot always trust newspapers to leave pictures alone and preserve their initial honesty. He cites the resignation of celebrity editor Piers Morgan from the Mirror for publishing faked pictures of British troops in Iraq. Morgan is not alone – this egregious habit is rife in newspapers, magazines and, if you go back far enough, portrait painting before electricity was discovered.
I think if you take the trouble to click the link and read this piece, you will be interested in this thoughtful man’s conclusions. A picture may be worth a thousand words but in the wrong hands, those words could be wholly mendacious.
Incidentally, Laurance’s own website is also worth a few minutes – he appears to have more than a moderate talent for painting pictures with light. And no, I’ve never met him.