the role of citizen journalism in crisis situations

What is the role of citizen journalism in crisis situations? Some quick thoughts and anecdotal evidence suggests that the role citizens can play in crisis situations is becoming significant. Consider the example of citizens taking snapshots with their cameraphones during the London subway attack. Or think about how the Sichuan earthquake first ‘broke’ on Twitter, a micro-blogging tool. If you think about how journalists cannot be everywhere, but ‘citizen journalists’ certainly are *potentially* everywhere – it will be interesting to see how this further develops.

I had the great pleasure to have lunch with Patrick Meier and Kate Brodock the other day. In tackling the question what role citizen journalism plays in crisis situations, they worked on analyzing and mapping the crisis responses of citizen journalists, mainstream news organizations and Ushahidi reports over time and space during the Kenya post-election violence. They used that information to create a Google Earth map that shows visually how citizen journalists are becoming an important factor in crisis reporting. Check out their fascinating study.