The Rise of Citizen Journalism in Nigeria
Sunday Dare is a Nigerian investigative journalist with two decades of media experience both nationally and abroad.During his time as a Thomson Reuters Fellow in 2010/11, he wrote a research project entitled The Rise of Citizen Journalism in Nigeria – A Case Study of Sahara Reporters, in which he examined in detail his country’s foremost citizen journalism enterprise, SaharaReporters.com. Sunday’s study analyses the social context for the general emergence of citizen journalism in Nigeria and the technological platform for its operations, and asks what has been the impact of this genre of journalism on both the traditional media and more importantly, the process of participatory democracy and governance in Nigeria. His study includes empirical data examining the immense following and support that citizen journalism receives among Nigerians at home and in the diaspora, and uses Sahara Reporters as a case study. It examines the motivation behind the idea of the web site, its editorial plurality and its sustainability. It seeks answers to the extent to which the website and other forms of User Generated Content have stimulated and dominated political and social discourse in Nigeria and how far they have set the country’s decision makers on edge. Sunday argues that the emergence of Sahara Reporters was fuelled by the interactive and investigative vacuum left by the traditional media in Nigeria. Its style of journalism has spurred them into a new era of citizenship awareness, greater political participation and a greater demand for accountability and transparency from those that govern them. The concluding section takes a look at how citizen journalism has come to challenge the hegemonic powers of the traditional media and forced the latter to make adjustments. It suggests that in spite of its inherent weaknesses, citizen journalism can be fused with the traditional media to create a synergy that will be of democratic value to a democratizing country like Nigeria. Sunday concludes that ‘therein lies the future of journalism in Nigeria’.