A Guide to Participatory Journalism & its Various Perspectives

For the average person who is not necessarily media literate, journalism can seem like an middle man or sorts to some, especially in the confines that journalists are suffering from in today’s times. It’s no secret that anyone can be considered a journalist as long as they have a smart phone in their hand and something to record but as journalists know, its a much more diverse field to navigate. Not everyone can be objective in gathering media or properly go through the channels for obtaining it but in the realm of covering societal events, there are lots of opinions.

Below are the perspectives of a filmmaker with ties to activism but admittedly not an activist, a journalist who has covered protests and done investigative reporting and a psychology student who works as a peer educator and research assistant. The factors that one should consider before veering down the path of participatory journalism effect journalists, civilians, law enforcement and play a role on ones psychological state.

Corey Brumfield, 25 years-old, graduating senior at New Jersey City University with a major in Media Arts.

“While I try to stay socially aware and push open conversation on social and civil justice, I don’t actually consider myself an activist at the moment. That may be a direction I am moving toward, but I am not there yet.”

“I have participated in protests, the most recent being on my campus. The administration recently halted applications for the MFA program on Media Arts at my school, a decision which will only serve to ultimately kill the program before its first graduating class can even receive their degrees.”

“To anyone who wants to participate in a protest, especially from a journalistic standpoint, I suggest constant vigilance. Stay aware of your surroundings and what is going on. Also don’t get too caught up in trying to be apart of it that you forget the importance of capturing everything you can.”

Pete Camarillo, 25 years-old, CSUN Journalism Alumni 2015, Media Assistant at Icon Media Direct.

“Protests happen for a reason. All sides of the protest are passionate about their side. You want to ask tough questions but you also don’t want to trivialize or disrespect someone’s view. This will make them not want to share any more of their beliefs.”

“I think it really depends on the issue. The success of blogs and outlets like Vice have proven that the public wants immersive journalism. Moreover, entrenching yourself in the protest is the easiest way to tell the protesters story. On the other hand, operating as a bystander may allow you to gain more credibility with officials and police who will want you to fairly tell their side. Hence, it is about finding a balance between participating and being a bystander.”

Eric Ashley, 24 years-old, graduating senior, peer educator for the B.L.U.E.S Project, Research assistant in the Adolescent and Adult Adjustment lab in the Department of Psychology.

Eric touches on avoiding echo chambers at protests and in certain spaces whether you are a journalist of civilian.

“The way we learn is through difference. You learn from different perspectives and disagreeing. The right way to go about things is to be assertive because you’re not infringing your rights or infringing another person’s rights. People aren’t being assertive when they’re talking to people, they’re being aggressive, which is psychopathology, which is a mental health issue, being aggressive with your views.”

“Attitude and bias are things that must be avoided to say as objective as possible. Body language, how people communicate with their hands or how fast they move them, or how they point and how aggressive the pointing is. That can relate to protesters and journalist themselves.”

Eric on avoiding conflict and misunderstandings.

“It’s really hard to figure out someone’s trigger is because you don’t know anybody that’s a stranger obviously. During a protest people may say certain things that resonate or bring up a bad memory. If you bring a negative emotion into it, then its hard to be objective as a protester, especially in todays climate.”