By Eric Garland
The crisis of Donald Trump’s collusion with the Russian Federation has given rise to a new term online: citizen journalists. This new “job title” has emerged because, frankly, the major media outlets upon which we depend have failed to keep up with the sheer torrent of new, alarming updates on the perversion of American governance. The actions of the Trump Administration and its complicit legislative branch produce so many questions that, in some sense, it is entirely understandable that the traditional news media cannot react promptly enough to brace for the next hideous update.
That said, much of the media’s failure to keep up with Trump-Russia is that they lack a deep enough pool of talent to understand the complexities of the matter, which are legion:
Intelligence and national security
Big data and social networks
Clandestine extreme political movements
Plus, the Trump-Russia story is about an extraordinary combination of the above at an unusual moment in American political life. It makes sense that no one news outlet could maintain in-house talent – or even a network of freelancers – that could piece together narratives in time for the next outrage.
Enter the citizen journalists
Into this void stepped the so-called citizen journalists. Armed with specialized skills from their careers and alarmed for the future of their country, a new group of voices have emerged. Velocity being the most important factor, citizen journalists have mainly emerged from Twitter, where the rapid-fire flow of data and social networking suit this mission the best.
In a few short months, people like Dr. Sarah Kendzior, Andrea Chalupa, John Schindler, Louise Mensch, Claude Taylor, and many others have attracted hundreds of thousands of followers as citizens search for some sense of just what the hell might be going on in the surreal nightmare of Trump’s administration. Drawing from their own deep professional experiences, they and others have transcended the bounds of traditional journalism and shown the public just where this awful story was headed – and why to keep hope alive.
Not everyone has been happy about this.
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