Citizen journalism is all about expression, an urge that goes way, way back in time. Expression allows human beings to wrest order from chaos, make sense of tragedy and draw blueprints from a shared experience.
Throughout history, expression has always run into a counter force. The world has never lacked for individuals or institutions eager to justify a clampdown on expression or, at least, filter this through a dominant lens. Human beings always manage to wriggle through the censors’ nets. The Inquisition, colonial rule, martial law or China’s great firewall — people found a way to tell their stories.
Citizen journalists do not need a messiah to save them from themselves. They have not taken kindly to people out to do digital “salvaging” via Republic Act 10175. The virtual world reflects the “real” world. People normally scorn someone who charges in with a plan to save them – without having asked about their needs and dreams.
Citizen journalists can seem like a dangerous force. But there is one thing you must not forget.If they’re telling their stories, if they’re out their complaining, it’s because they have hope – that problems will be solved, that someone will listen, that someone will work with them.
Tear down your walls. Enter into their world and benefit from the wisdom of the crowd. Save your resources for other more urgent tasks. Do not treat your people as the enemy. Or, as Raul Manglapus warned not too long ago, “then build a wall around your home… build it, place a sentry on every parapet!… for I who have been silent … (and just found my voice)will come in the night when you are feasting (and carousing), with my cry, and my bolo(and my algorithms) at your door.”