Investigating Instagram as The new citizen photojournalism, bringing activist movements to a greater audience.   

Citizen journalism is based upon public citizens playing an active role in the process of capturing and sharing news and information.

The term citizen journalism gained popularity in the early 90s when the Rodney King beatings in Los Angeles were documented by witness George Holliday. We can look back even further in history to the JFK assassination in which reporters combined bystanders’ snapshots with professional spot news photographs to tell the story behind this major event in US history. 

The critical tool missing at the birth of citizen journalism was a sharing platform, a distribution channel. Imagine if George Holliday had access to social media, Youtube, and the worldwide web. He would have been able to reach a much wider audience and in record-breaking time. 

Today, cameras are readily available to the public and more importantly, they are built into devices with connection to digital networks. With more cameras in the hands of more people, not just photography professionals, everyone has the opportunity to capture images and share them with the world. The role of photographer has expanded to include roles such as content producer, curator, or publisher. 


Through filtering with hashtags, a collection of images is brought to light, one that tells a different story of these events, all from the perspective of the participant. This additional access point opens the door to a more personal account of the event. Are we closer to the truth or is this just another opportunity for a mediated experience?

By examining images captured and shared through Instagram of the recent protests in Istanbul Turkey and Kiev Ukraine, in contrast to professional news media, I hope to understand the impact of this new citizen photojournalism. 



Mark Tribe, Brown University;

Fred Ritchin, NYU; Bending the Frame: Photojournalism, Documentary, and the Citizen

Observations in Citizen Photojournalism: