Citizen Journalists Cover Multitude of Issues

If you spend a couple of hours browsing citizen journalism websites and blogs, you’d be amazed to learn the variety of topics being covered by citizen journalists these days.

Citizens around the globe are covering everything from community affairs to automobile trends and from auto accidents to celebrities.

Take Grahamstown, for example. Citizen journalists in this small town in South Africa have informed their communities about 300 things they would never have known, according to a blog written by Professor Harry Dugmore, MTN Chair of Media and Mobile Communication at the School of Journalism and Media Studies at Rhodes University.

While some of the stories included big breaking news, others pieces came from small blog-like posts. The stories ranged from plans to close a poor performing school in Grahamstown to a report about an automobile accident.

“Almost without exception, these stories are about issues that Grocott’s Mail, the local paper that is also South Africa’s oldest independent newspaper, would not have been able to cover due to meager resources,” Dugmore wrote.

On citizen journalism sites such as Merinews, Cplash and STOMP, you’ll find stories about the report from the White House Commission the BP oil spill, factors affecting your CMS web design costs, the status of certain car manufacturers, a dog being beaten and rescued, and Pamela Anderson being named PETA’s person of the year.

Immigrants in the United States are even getting into the act.

In New York, operators of the website hope to bring immigrant communities along the 7 train together with a mix of local news and advocacy. With the help of citizen journalists, the site covers issues of interest to immigrants in three communities, according to Noel Pangilinan, the site’s executive editor.

In California, Catherine Traywick, an immigration blogger for the Media Consortium, writes about the Mobile Voices program, through which immigrants in Southern California are using their cell phones to document their stories.

Then, there those very narrowly defined citizen journalism websites, such as, which focuses mostly on health issues, and, which “was born out of a need to build a community of gluten-free persons … who understand what it means to be gluten free.”

The sites and the citizen journalists who contribute to them run the gamut. So I’m guessing if you have a specific interest and a desire to report, write and inform, you can find a site that’s right for you.

Susan Cormier is the head coach in charge of training at the National Association of Citizen Journalists ( and co-author of the “Handbook for Citizen Journalists” (

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About The Author

NACJ trainer

Susan Carson Cormier is a co-founder of the National Association of Citizen Journalists and co-author of the "Handbook for Citizen Journalists." As the head coach at the NACJ, Cormier is in charge of training citizen journalists the basics in how to report and write news, sports and feature stories.

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01 2011

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