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Last Updated: Monday, 16 January 2006, 14:09 GMT

Are we all citizen journalists?
Alexander Chadwick's view of evacuating Kings Cross after the bombing
Alexander Chadwick captured his evacuation from Kings Cross
Citizens have been doing journalism for themselves for sometime - but it took the London bombings on 7 July 2005 for mainstream journalism to wake up to its potential.

The face of journalism changed forever as the rise of mobile phones with cameras helped many BBC News website readers tell the story of the horrific events of the bombings first hand.

The website received hundreds of emails and photos from readers across London, including the first pictures of the aftermath of the bus bombing in Tavistock Square and video footage of passengers being evacuated from trains deep underground.

The pictures were unlike anything conventional news crew could have ever taken and gave a unique insight into the claustrophobic conditions that people had to deal with.

Hurricane impact

In August 2005, when Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf coast of the US, the devastation in the affected areas started to become clear when a steady flow of emails, pictures and video began to arrive.

And in December, when the Buncefield oil depot blew up, the first still picture from a citizen journalist arrived just 13 minutes after the first explosion. It was the first of more than 10,000 still and moving images sent to the BBC that day.

But citizen journalism is not just about people sending their images of events they have witnessed to major news organisations. People all over the world are writing their own blogs telling people about how they live their lives and the issues that matter to them.

Others are using the internet to set up their own local news sites, or even online television stations to report on local stories or campaign on issues that haven't hit the conventional headlines.


BBC journalists are meeting to discuss what we should do about citizen journalism and we want to know what you think. Tell us what you think about citizen journalism and the way the BBC responds to it.

What do you think of citizen journalism? Is it a valuable source? Or would you rather leave it to the professionals? Does the media take advantage of its readers? Have you ever witnessed an event and emailed a news agency? If so, what was the experience like for you? Send us your comments and experiences using the form below.

We'll report back on the meeting next week.

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