Journalism awards should be given to whatever story is the BEST, regardless of who takes the photo or shoots the video. It is important to hold journalists to a high standard of quality, and if a professional journalist was not the one to create the content, it shouldn’t matter. The way we communicate has shifted dramatically with social media and technology. Anyone can be a photographer with a cell phone or shoot a video with a digital camera. By posting content to our social networks, we are in essence reporting the news every day. It might not deserve to air on the 7 PM News, but it is probably information your friends and networks care about.

For example, when the earthquake hit Japan, people were tweeting about it before information was available on the news. Are they reporters for tweeting about these events? Yeah, pretty much. And we were the audience, waiting to hear the news of how badly the country was damaged, and if its citizens were safe.

Similarly, an unknowing neighbor to Osama bin Laden more or less witnessed the United States mission in Afghanistan, and tweeted about it before he knew what was happening. Luckily, the mission was not jeopardized, but now he will forever been known for that incident. He was being observant, and reported his reactions on Twitter, like many other users.

Whoever reports the news should have the ability to compete for an award. The world is changing and we are all reporters now.

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