Amateur Journalism: The Ferguson Protests
When it comes to amateur journalism, perhaps the best example I have seen in recent years is the amateur footage of the protests in Ferguson, MO following the death of Michael Brown. Raw footage such as this was important because it gave us a view of the story from the POV of the city's citizens. This gave light to a story that would have otherwise been virtually ignored in today's mainstream media. In fact, media outlets often turn to footage like this to use in their stories.
Importance aside, the amateur footage of the Ferguson protests was a good example of journalism, in my opinion. However, it does have its faults. Since most footage of the protests were taken via camera phone and uploaded to a livestream website, it lacks the professionalism that we look for in our news stories. Most footage come out shaky and low in quality. However, while these user-generated videos lack in professional technique, they make up for it in validity and well-roundedness. With multiple people shooting these videos at the time, it proves two points: that it was a real issue, and that it was a BIG issue. By confirming the validity and importance of the situation at hand, the protests (and the Michael Brown case) became a hot topic in America, helping to launch what is now known as the "Black Lives Matter" movement.
What these videos also provide is something that is rare in today's mainstream media: the unbiased news story. A common occurance is that stories like this one are framed in the media in a way that, most times, shows as intimidating and barbaric. Sadly, this is especially true with stories involving people of color. In the mainstream media, the stories are worded and framed in a way that shows a clear bias. For example, most media outlets framed the protests as "riots," only focusing on the negative outcomes of these protests (including looting by a few unruly citizens). However, they fail to focus on the peaceful protesting of police brutality, which made up the largest portion of the story. They also diminish the fact that police on the scene used unnecessary force to restrain the protesters. The amateur videos' strength is in the fact that they told the ENTIRE story, both good and bad.
As far as the future of this "guerrila journalism" tactic in our world, it would serve as a great benefit to society. In fact, this would be a great resurrection of the core values of journalism: narrative and truth-telling. Without the systematic biases of the mainstream media holding them back, citizens can use this tactic to shape the way we see the news. As a result, it would give people the courage and the voice that they are missing to help push forward social change. By exposing the truth, the WHOLE truth, then videos such as the footage of the Ferguson protests can help eliminate media biases, once and for all, and provide stories that are valid, well-rounded, and useful.