While citizen journalism still ignites much controversy and is still undergoing a transformation, there are several aspects that everyone agrees have certainly improved controversial journalism. A new type of interview called "ask me anything" or "A.M.A." for short has become a preferred choice of PR and interview journalism for many high profile people whether or not they are prominent figures in the magazine or political worlds.
This method of holding online press conferences has been successful thanks to rapid developments in information and communication technologies, as well as the changing demographics in our society. A.M.A. was born in the only recently - in the year 2009 to be exact - on the "front page of the Internet" Reddit. Being one of the largest content providers to the Internet, the site includes an immense range of topics in the form of "subreddits." A.M.A was founded in one of those subreddits named "IAmA" (I am A) as an outlet for users to allow other questions to ask about themselves. Famous people from all spheres have had an AMA one time or another including President Barrack Obama, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, astronaut Chris Hadfield, singer Madonna, athlete Roger Federer, actor Peter Dinklage, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, 45th Vice President and environmental activist Al Gore and 38th Governor of California and successful actor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The list goes on and on, but these names should suffice to give you a picture of the range and popularity of this new interview form that the journalism sector should take note of.
Lately, Turkish sites seem willing to follow this new area of journalism, and in fact there was a successful example of A.M.A that took place on a platform quite similar to Reddit - Ekşisözlük.
Of course, Reddit isn't without its hiccups and scandals, as you might remember the witch hunt that took place there after the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. Perhaps one of the worst moments of citizen journalism also showed the shortcomings of journalism without checks and balances as well as editorial supervision. Until then, most outlets were largely in favor of this new big thing, but nowadays we see and seek a balance in the argument.
Another one of these controversies quite recently emerged, engulfing Reddit in chaos. We also see its echoes in many mainstream media outlets such as the New York Times, the BBC, the Telegraph, the Guardian, etc. One of the most important driving forces behind the aforementioned A.M.As as well as the IAmA subreddit, Victoria Taylor, was fired from her job as the director of communications for Reddit along with several staff members. While the reason for the layoff isn't clear, as each side has different accounts, the user base of Reddit seems convinced enough to back Taylor. A petition in Change.org asking for Ellen K. Pao to step down as the CEO of Reddit Inc. reached 120,000 as of Sunday morning and is rising rapidly. What is more significant is that the many volunteer moderators from subreddits with a reach of hundreds of thousands decided to black out their subreddits to protest the CEO and board of directors as well as to show support for Taylor.
Scandals are the job of the PR sector. But because the scandal was also closely related to A.M.A.s as the probable reason for Taylor's dismissal, we can call this a bad day for citizen journalism. Jesse Jackson, an American activist was in a tight spot in a recent A.M.A., and if the cause for Taylor's dismissal was because of her reluctance to block some hard questions, we can call the situation what it is: censure. As free access to information and low oversight are pillars of citizen journalism, the current anger is understandable.
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