Power to the People: Citizen Journalism


As an avid rap music listener, I have noticed a major shift in the way I view my music information. Obviously there is an abundance of music reviews, blogs and forums all containing everything you need to know and never knew you needed to know about every possible artist making music today.

Whereas once I would refer to (hip-hop media) The Source, XXL or HipHopDX for new album reviews, now I look to forums in Reddit, Noisey, Complex, even comment sections of Youtube. For me, there is an element of trust involved. I know that larger sites and companies are most likely connected to even larger record companies with vested interests in the commercial success and sales of that record. I know that the various opinions of the average user are valuable and sometimes more warranted than 5 mics in the Source.

This is where I see benefits of ‘citizen journalism’. Without profit driven incentive, more honesty is achieved and real opinions get heard. While one opinion doesn’t hold as much weight as a major magazine such as XXL, many of these views can stack up and rise against biased and dishonest music and concert reviews with ulterior motives.

Hip-hop in general has always thrived on being a citizen-driven genre. It formed as a reaction against the mainstream and therefore holds more value in maintaining this position. As soon as the control shifts away from the streets and to the corporations, the genre ventures away from its essence. (See – Hip-hop as a citizen media)


Citizen control of media with the aid of the internet has, and will continue to, empower those involved with hip-hop ensuring its legacy stays in the hands of the people and not those with economic self interests absent of culture or passion in the genre.


4 thoughts on “Power to the People: Citizen Journalism

  1. Citizen journalists are now everywhere so it only stands to reason that their contribution to the news stream on all topics will be more significant as time goes by. Every individual with a smart phone is now a news crew, on the spot ready to report on news when it happens but the mainstream media know this and will use it to bolster their own news feeds. There is a real danger that the demand for mainstream journalists will decrease as media companies recruit a herd of “citizen journalists’ to fill the role. Money for news will always buy journalistic loyalty and the network of amateur news seekers would be cheaper and more extensive than the traditional journalist model.

  2. One thing I find interesting is, that record companies often pay thousands of dollars to have their artists promoted by traditional media. Television, Radio and magazines charge huge amounts of money to promote certain artists and products. Yet all of the promotion that comes from word of mouth from forum to forum, is all free. That’s one of the reasons I see people getting away with illegally downloading music. In a way, people are getting a free copy of the music, in exchange for discussing, and promoting it if they like it. In a way everybody wins, because musicians are richer than ever.

    RiFF RaFF’s debut album is a perfect example. It probably won’t sell 50,000 copies, but his image and brand will be more valuable. He may not make a lot of money from record sales, but his brand and image will be worth more. When he advertises a product, or performs at a festival, he will be worth more money. People downloading his music for free adds to his worth in other area’s.

  3. I feel like this is the only way to find out about information that isn’t completely biased and are from people who are passionate about the specific genre. I agree with your idea that there is dishonesty from people who are paid to provide a review of the music that you’re looking for, and the incentive of money is too great not to miss. But citizen journalism is the only way for legitimate and true reviews is from the people and is from word of mouth.

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