CITIZEN JOURNALISM AND SOCIAL MEDIA IN SIERRA LEONE.pdf
CITIZEN JOURNALISM AND SOCIAL MEDIA IN SIERRA LEONE
MOHAMED IBRAHIM SANKOH 1920326
Do you know the efficacy of Citizen Journalism and Social Media in promoting the dissemination,
consumption and gratification of information? Well, this research indicates the waning of citizen journalism
and the intensification of social media.
The Internet, a new medium has changed the way people obtain and interact with news and information
about government policy. In part, because the public no longer needs to rely on newspapers, radio or
television programmes to be informed. People access news and express their opinions on the Internet,
especially through social media. Beyond traditional news media, such as radio programmes, television
programmes and print newspapers, many people gather news from social media such as Facebook,
WhatsApp, Instagram, tiktok, YouTube and Twitter.
According to digital Sierra Leone, there were 2.39 million internet users in Sierra Leone in January, 2021
and 850.0 thousand social media users in Sierra Leone in January, 2021.
“Citizen Journalism” is a term used to refer to ordinary individuals who act as journalists during some part
of the process of creating content for mainstream journalism coverage. In Sierra Leone, besides ordinary
citizen journalists, some professional journalists have been regarded as citizen journalists if they write
stories online that would otherwise not be publishable in traditional media. Citizen journalism develops
dynamically through online media.
The term social media refers to a computer-based technology that facilitates the sharing of ideas, thoughts,
and information through virtual networks and communities like Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, tiktok,
YouTube, QQ, Douyin, Sino Weibo, Messenger, Imo and Twitter. Not forgetting that social media has
changed the way we all interact with each other online. It gives us the ability to discover what's happening
in the world in real-time, to connect with each other and stay in touch with long-distance friends, and in
order to have access to endless amounts of information at our fingertips.
In many senses, social media has helped many individuals find common ground with others online, making
the world seem more approachable. (Maya Dollar hide, August 31, 2021).
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Various empirical studies have been conducted highlighting that many citizens face challenges to access
information based on their geographical locations, and or financial status to afford a television set.
According to Lang (2010), citizen journalism may be construed as a form of journalism produced by non-
professionals and its products may take the form of texts, images, videos, and audios. The production
process may involve tools like mobile phones, computers, audio recorders, or even mere pen and paper.
Historically, flew (2014) explains that citizen journalism emerged in 1999 following a publication by
Matthew Arnison and others involved in a group known as ‘Active Sydney’. This group began receiving
numerous information from various sources for various new forms of news production.
Citizen journalism was initially practiced via mass media (social media). This is because citizens trusted
mass media as an independent information channel, so, social media like Twitter and the like was
unavailable. Following mass media’s affiliation to political parties and the rise of social media, citizens
began using Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, tiktok, YouTube, QQ, Douyin, Sino Weibo,
messenger, Imo etc. in other to deliver news and information.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM OF THE RESEARCH
This study aims at determining the role of citizen journalism. While efforts are being made to mitigate these
citizen journalists and the use of social media in Sierra Leone, citizen journalists and social media users are
reluctant to reckon with the objectivity, credibility and of course the ABC principle of journalism, i.e.
Accuracy, Balance and Clarity. The approach presented here is a radical one. But commensurate with the
issue. These problems continue to exist even at present and that is why this study seeks to look into solving
such issues is therefore a major thrust of this study.
1.3 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
▪ What is citizen journalism?
▪ How citizen journalists influence on the agendas of traditional media in Sierra Leone;
▪ What are the impacts of citizen journalism on sierra Leoneans?
▪ Are information disseminated on social media by their citizen journalists uphold the ABC principle
▪ What can government do to minimize, or stop the misuse of social media in Sierra Leone by these
The way social media users like citizen journalists misuse the principles of journalism and that of
information sharing has become alarming. Many fake news are sent in the world of today especially with
the emergence of the users’ generated content, wherein users can now create contents without any
1.5 AIMS AND OBJECTIVES
The aim of this research it to assess the objectivity, credibility, accuracy, balance, and clarity of contents
published by citizen journalists and social media users. It also focuses on whether materials published on
social media platforms by citizen journalists is authentic and credible for the audience.
The objective of this research is to provide the platforms for individuals to be considered and acknowledged
at a national level.
Citizen journalism has the capability to reach an audience that has not had the privilege of receiving higher
education and still remain informed about what is surrounding them and their respective destinations.
To build an interconnection or inter-personal cordiality between the media (social media and the new
media) and its audiences.
The study predicts a relationship between information disseminated on social media (a new new media)
and the new media by citizen journalists whether it upholds the ABC of journalism that is, Accuracy,
Balance and Clarity as opposed to that of the traditional media.
1.7 SCOPE AND LIMITATIONS
The study tends to assess as to whether information disseminated upholds the principles of journalism of
Sierra Leone (objectivity, credibility, accuracy, balance and clarity), but it focuses mainly on Citizen
Journalism and social media users of Tonkolili District.
1.8 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
The study will adopt a triangulation research method. Thus triangulation is the use of more than one
approach to researching a question. The objective is to increase confidence in the findings through the
confirmation of a proposition using two or more independent measures.
(Bryman A. (n.d.).Triangulation. http://www.referenceworld.com/sage/socialscience/triangulation.pdf).
The data comprises of both quantitative which refers to the collection of data based on numbers, and a
summary is taken from these numbers and a qualitative research method, refers to the non- numerical
elements in the research, responses from interviewees, data from the digital Sierra Leone and focus
1.9 RESEARCH THEORY
The Agenda Setting Theory
Agenda-setting describes the "ability (of the news media) to influence the importance placed on the topics
of the public agenda" and in this case the social media. The study of agenda-setting describes the way media
attempts to influence viewers, and establish a hierarchy of news prevalence by setting their agendas.
Since the Internet has changed the way people obtain and interact with news and information about
government policy, in part, because the public no longer needs to rely on newspapers or television
programmes for these purposes. People access news and express their opinions on the Internet, especially
through social media. Beyond traditional news media, such as television programmes and print newspapers,
many people gather news from social media such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, tiktok, YouTube,
QQ, Douyin, Sino Weibo, messenger, imo and Twitter.
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going?". Communication Yearbook. 11: 555–594.
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newspaper articles. New Media and Society 12, no. 7 (November), pp.1064-1084.