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Frame 313: The Beginnings of Citizen Journalism


 

Disclaimer: Embedded link contains potentially disturbing image, viewer discretion is advised.

 

22nd November 1963, Dallas, Texas. President John F. Kennedy is assassinated while waving at bystanders from his motorcade. Although caught on camera by multiple people, the Zapruder Film provides us with the most clear view of the assassination.


Filmed from a home video camera and spanning a total of 486 frames, Frame 313 captures the fatal gunshot to the President's head. The film was inducted in the National Film Registry for being both culturally and historically significant. It is believed that 1970s Hollywood cinema took inspiration from the home movie in its depiction of violence, particularly Frame 313.


But more importantly, the Zapruder Film paved the way for what we now know as Citizen Journalism. Where citizens actively partake in collection, analyzing and reporting news and information. It is a movement meant to challenge conventional mainstream media and is highly important in conflict zones where media agencies have little to no presence or simply refuse to report news.


Aided by accessibility to social media platforms, citizen journalism is exactly what brings us news from conflict zones such as the ongoing Israeli brutalities in Jerusalem. Our Instagram feeds are filled with militarized Israeli police forces raiding the Al-Aqsa Mosque, injuring hundreds and forcefully taking over Palestinian homes in the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, violently attacking those who resist, and even those who do not.


The videos and images, often having violent content, much like Frame 313, are all coming from individual citizens who are the oppressed and are actively doing their part as citizen journalists. All to bring international attention to this forceful Israeli occupation and somehow, put an end to it.

 

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You've raised an excellent point. One of the things that came to my mind were collaborations between media houses and citizens, where citizens can "sell" footage to big media houses which can then have a much larger reach. However, this obviously has some drawbacks (which were captured nicely in the movie "Nightcrawler"). Social media has largely democratized this realm and provides a balance middle ground. However, the problem of outreach still remains as it difficult to get the message across internationally without some support from big media houses.

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Exactly, the Zapruder Film was sold for $ 150,000 back in the 60s to I think Life magazine. And Nightcrawler was amazing, really showed the dark side of this form of journalism.

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Absolutely, I think it is a great phenomenon that has slowly gained traction, particularly I believe with the creation of social media. And I feel this is far more effective than traditional media in terms of getting the world's attention. We've seen governments try to restrict social media access, and do social media blackouts for their people in these situations, but that's usually met with a far greater reaction by the world than the media staying quiet on a topic. Do you think citizen journalism can have some negatives though? Like in the sharing of sensitive information, e.g terrorists within a school may know about the strategy or positioning of guards outside the school because someone made a video or…

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I don't really have an answer to the first question, but I would say that if someone is claiming themselves to be a citizen journalist, it is their responsibility to look into what they are reporting and if the content can potentially have any repercussions. But I guess since it isn't a regulated profession or an institutionalised medium of reporting like conventional media that is governed by laws etc., the citizen journalists may not be aware of the potential consequences of their content.


Now the thing about this spam and false information received through WhatsApp, this comes under the category of dissemination of information and does not involve collecting, analyzing and reporting, which constitute journalism. So I don't think it…

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