Contemporary citizen journalists can find a lot of common ground with a trailblazer who was active during the late 19th and early 20th centuries: Ida B. Wells. Motivated by false narratives and the downplaying of abuse of Black Americans of her own day, Wells chronicled the stories of those impacted by lynchings and riots. Wells’ quantitative work pioneered the way for data journalism and inspired her great-granddaughter Michelle Duster to dedicate her life to continue countering false narratives.
If you’ve followed the scores of Black Lives Matter protests that have filled St. Louis-area streets for nearly two months, you’ve likely seen their work in your social media feeds.Citizen journalists have livestreamed or live-tweeted nearly every demonstration following the police killings of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor in Louisville this spring. Most have no formal journalism training and no newsroom team or subscriber base supporting them. But many people in the region’s Black community consider them credible news sources.