Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 01/2011

By the People: The Rise of Citizen Journalism

Eugene L. Meyer

December 2010

National Endowment for Democracy


Citizen journalism–it has an almost Norman Rockwell ring to it, something akin to his iconic town meeting cover for the Saturday Evening Post, with citizens rising to speak their minds in furtherance of the democratic ideal. Only now, citizens are speaking online, in many cases helping to disseminate the information an informed electorate needs for democracy to exist and flourish. The phrase has become the talk of media circles. Along with its close cousins “citizen media” and “crowd sourcing,” it is increasingly and approvingly invoked among communications academics, researchers, media development implementers, and funders as a bright light in the otherwise dimming environment of news gathering and dissemination that has marked the first decade of the twenty-first century.