Smartphone Journalism: The Changing Face of News

Thursday 8 May 2014, 4.58am | VIDEO NOW ONLINE

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Cameras are everywhere capturing headline events, from the worst atrocities in Syria to the tragic unfolding of Drummer Rigby’s death in Woolwich. The proliferation of smartphones and social media means that the first instinct of many bystanders is to give rolling commentary on live events by posting footage, images and tweets online. And the mainstream media are only too keen to use their content. After all, what images and accounts would we have of 9/11 or the Arab Spring if these extraordinary events had not been so widely documented by ordinary members of the public? Citizen journalism brings us closer to the action and deepens our understanding of world events. It also empowers the public to play their part in major stories and to give voices to those who might otherwise not be heard.

But are these ‘karaoke journalists’ playing an important role in the delivery of news, or are they, as their critics claim, naively gathering unfiltered, extremist views and actions? Why should we trust what they film when they have no formal training? And would their efforts sometimes be better spent helping someone in need? What legal, ethical and editorial responsibilities should the mainstream media consider when they choose to feature, edit or ignore user generated content?

In this debate, from Intelligence Squared in partnership with ITV News asked: does citizen journalism have a valuable part to play in the dissemination of news or is it inevitably a risky business and likely to compromise truth? Is it a complement to mainstream media or a threat to traditional forms of journalism?


Paul ConroyPaul Conroy

World-renowned photojournalist and war-photographer. In 2012 Conroy suffered severe injuries in the Syrian city of Homs during an attack that killed two other reporters including celebrated Sunday Times journalist Marie Colvin


Claire FoxClaire Fox

Renowned libertarian writer and director of Britain’s Institute of Ideas. She writes regularly for national newspapers and is a frequent contributor to BBC Radio 4’s Moral Maze. Fox is also a member of the European Cultural Parliament


Jessica MayberryJessica Mayberry (via Google+ Hangouts on Air)

Social Entrepreneur and founder of Video Volunteers, an organisation that works to empower India’s rural and slum communities, who have been excluded from the traditional media


Simon OstrovskySimon Ostrovsky (via Google+ Hangouts on Air)

Soviet-born American journalist, director, and producer currently reporting for VICE News. He was recently held captive for three days by pro-Russia separatists in eastern Ukraine


Will SelfWill Self

Author, journalist and broadcaster, whose latest book is the novel Umbrella. He writes two fortnightly columns for the New Statesman and has previously been a columnist for the Observer, The Times and the Evening Standard


Oren YakobovichOren Yakobovich

Founder of Videre (est credere), a human rights group that works to expose violations around the globe through covert filming. Yakobovich, a former Israeli soldier, has trained hundreds of citizens in the West Bank to use cameras to fight for justice




Mark AustinMark Austin

Multi-award winning journalist who co-presents ITV News at Ten. For fifteen years he was a foreign correspondent based in Africa and Asia and travelling all over the globe




All speakers are subject to change.