Speaking at the BBC's Social Media Summit today, member of Al Jazeera's social media team Esra Dogramaci said the Qatar-based broadcaster is not creating the news agenda, but amplifying it.
"We want to be at the centre of the discussion, we want informed discussions. In Egypt people were saying please don't turn your cameras off, if you turn your cameras off then we will die. But there are sometimes restrictions and for input people become our eyes and ears on the ground."
She added that the broadcaster is therefore developing training to help those on the ground use new technologies, such as Flip cameras and other devices, and "cultivate a community of citizen journalists".
"People are at the heart of it … it is up to us to give them a microphone and amplify their voices. In Syria, for example, we have no correspondents on the ground. We are relying entirely on people to send the content to us to send out."
When questioned about the responsibility of Al Jazeera for those who they train, and the risks the new citizen journalists may face in using the technology to report on issues, she said in journalism "there are always risks that you take".
"We had our offices targeted, reporters arrested, a cameraman killed in Libya, Dorothy Parvaz was detained in Syria. When you look at citizen journalism I think they realise there's a risk but as any good journalist knows it is about the issues you're passionate about.
"It is our responsibility to take these voices, and there's a risk in doing so. But with user generated content we give people the option if they want to be identified. We are well aware people are exposing themselves but we do give people the choice."
Related article: #media140 – Al Jazeera's early start reporting revolutions
Image by Tom_El_Rumi on Flickr. Some rights reserved.
Free daily newsletter
- Data, video, sponsored content and more: Survey highlights what publishers will be prioritising in 2017
- Facebook launches free online training for journalists
- Tip: Where to find inspiration when you need story ideas
- Report: Nearly a quarter of news articles include social media embeds
- Tip: Here's how to keep your professional and personal contacts separate on Facebook