Long Beach, Koh Lanta Island, Thailand, 27 December 2004Online news veteran Steve Outing has described the South Asia earthquake and tsunamis as a 'seminal marker' for citizen journalism.

Writing on Poynter.org, Mr Outing explains how camera phones, digital cameras, blogs and the internet have allowed the public to report their own news first-hand. Few mainstream news organisations have embraced citizen journalism and integrated these reports into their sites, but Mr Outing praises the BBC for including eyewitness accounts, photos from survivors and readers' stories of reuniting with their friends and family.

No organisation has yet compiled a central aggregated service for all tsunami-related news and blogs, said Mr Outing, who suspects that online news publishers are still afraid to encourage readers to link to external sites and are sceptical about the credibility of citizen reporting.

However, he said the disaster has reinforced the value of first-hand accounts by focusing attention on 'an army of accidental journalists'. As a result, said Mr Outing, citizen reporting may finally be recognised as a vital element in the grand scheme of news.

More coverage:
Background on tsunamis at Wikipedia
Guardian Unlimited examines blog coverage of the event
The South-East Asia Earthquake and Tsunami Blog
Poynter highlights useful tsunami resources

More from dotJournalism:
Help for tsunami video blogs
Sky targeted by tsunami email hoax
Email tracks toddler

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