Citizen Journalists

Citizen Journalists

Newer Media, Republican Moments and the Constitution

Elgar Monographs in Constitutional and Administrative Law series

Ian Cram

This monograph explores the phenomenon of ‘citizen journalism’ from a legal and constitutional perspective. It describes and evaluates emerging patterns of communication between a new and diverse set of speakers and their audiences. Drawing upon political theory, the book considers the extent to which the constitutional and legal frameworks of modern liberal states allow for a ‘contestatory space’ that advances the scope for non-traditional speakers to participate in policy debates and to hold elites to account.

Chapter 4: Beyond the Fourth Estate: Rethinking the privileges of ‘journalists’ in the era of new media

Ian Cram

Subjects: law - academic, constitutional and administrative law, information and media law


Thus far, I have made a series of claims about the new media and newly empowered speakers. The possibilities for ‘republican moments’ were explored in earlier chapters which alluded to the enticing prospect of the dissolving distinction between ‘speakers’ and ‘audience’ and the creation of a diversified sphere of public commentators, unconstrained by the editorial dictates of established media organisations’ corporate interests. The opportunities afforded to non-professional producers of content to give voice to marginalised and non-mainstream viewpoints might be thought to wrest a measure of control away from political and corporate elites who have hitherto dominated the production and dissemination of news and opinion. The current ‘republican moment’ allows for the airing of matters by speakers marginalised by the established mainstream media. In turn, as was seen in Chapter 2, some of these non-traditional speakers can in fact quickly acquire a following among mainstream outlets. The latter may provide a link in their online content to favoured bloggers thereby ensuring a wider audience for this content. Separately, the apparent possibilities of anonymous communication have freed up speakers to articulate concerns that they may not have felt able to air for fear of adverse consequences from employers, neighbours or family members. Moreover, the inability of audience members to identify the speaker has reduced the frequency of ad hominem responses and encouraged other speakers to focus on the contents of online communication.

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