THE NEW CITIZEN JOURNALISTS
A new app alerts you of police activity nearby – so that you can run out and catch it on video for all to see.
THE APP IS CALLED CITIZEN, and for now it’s available only in New York City. Ruddy Roye, a photojournalist and former AP stringer, followed Citizen’s alerts for a week this summer and recorded the results for Popular Mechanics. Here is his report.
Ninety per cent of the reported crimes were robberies. I saw bicycle thefts, a deli being robbed. There were a lot of gunshot reports, although some turned out to be fireworks. It was sad to see how many domestic violence cases popped up – at least 15 each day. Sometimes the crimes were over too quickly. Once I got an alert that there was a robbery with a weapon reported 400 metres from me. I got there right away, but an officer told me that the guy was long gone. Another time, an accident happened a few blocks from me. I raced over and it had already been cordoned off with yellow caution tape. I was able to capture a four-minute video of an accident victim being loaded into the ambulance (right). At a previous scene I had some trouble with the recordings. When you hit the record button, nothing changes to let you know you’re recording. So I kept pressing the button. Eventually someone from the app emailed and asked if I was having problems, because they could see that the videos were short. You have to just press the button and know it’s recording. The app works best when something happens close to you; if you’re in your house and a crime is reported outside your window. In that way, citizen journalists have the potential to become important new outlets if the professionals can’t get there in time.