Skip to content

Citizen Journalism On X Is Disrupting Established Media

The lack of trust in legacy media propels the success of citizen journalism.

Photo by Alexander Shatov / Unsplash

For decades, the New York Times' tagline has been that it will print all the news that is fit to print. For a traditional paper-based publication with a limited number of pages, it was a tall claim that held for generations.

But in the modern digital era, space is not a limitation. Online newspapers and media outlets permit comments from registered subscribers, but these are heavily moderated and taken down under the terms of agreement of each publication.

On X, given the relatively relaxed rules for citizen debate, people can comment on other people's opinions and originate content. This is a powerful way to share information, even with many posts' errors and disinformation. Disinformation is community-noted and flagged where the original post stays, and experts who disagree with the author provide information that users can see for themselves. The best part is that there is no censorship as long as whatever appears is legal.

All speech is permitted because X, as a platform, has no specific political agenda. This makes X a valuable resource unmatched by any publication, and the fact that it is free makes it even more useful. 

Consider a critical moment on Monday during oral arguments in a First Amendment case at the Supreme Court. Justice Ketanji Jackson said something appalling for someone on the Supreme Court. Addressing the lawyer representing Louisiana, Missouri, and private plaintiffs, Jackson said:

My biggest concern is that your view has the First Amendment hamstringing the federal government in significant ways in the most important time periods. 

It was an extraordinary statement for a Supreme Court justice to make. The First Amendment outlaws the Government from abridging speech or preventing its free exercise - so was Jackson directly contradicting the Constitution?

The majority of liberal media outlets ignored Justice Jackson's ridiculous question, but X picked it up. No sooner than Jackson spoke, hundreds of posts had mocked her comments, many of which included the full audio comment from C-SPAN to provide context.

When Fox News dutifully reported the story later, it relied on these posts on X to build its story. This kind of citizen journalism, where ordinary people can expose the truth, thrives on X and is a deep disrupter of the established media outlets. 

It is easy to forget that the term "the Fourth Estate" was created so that the media could bring truth to those in power and serve as a watchdog over the other three branches of Government. Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein of the Washington Post brought down an entire administration through brilliant and copious investigative reporting. Thirty years later, Knight Ridder Washington reporters Warren Strobel and Jonathan Landay fought a lone battle to expose the questionable intelligence used to justify Bush 43's war in Iraq even as the legacy media blindly printed pro-government stories.  

Media outlets are hopelessly compromised by their biases and wilfully omit context when they report. Speaking at an election rally in Michigan, former President Trump used the word "bloodbath" to describe the economic hardships that would result if China used Mexico as a region from which to flood cars to America using USMCA, the North American trade agreement. Trump was talking about jobs in automotive manufacturing that have already been negatively affected by Biden's aggressive push for EVs, which, on average, require fewer workers to build. 

Every major news outlet, including NBC News, CBS News, and CNN, endlessly repeated the bloodbath comment and connected it to Trump's purported desire to promote political violence. Again, X came to the rescue. Within minutes of these reports criticizing Trump, hundreds of posts showed the actual clip to provide the full context to readers.

X also has the reach to dispel lies. When Elon Musk retweeted Trump’s full bloodbath video clip, it got 67 million views, more than the combined viewing of all the media outlets that promoted the negative bloodbath story. It was another outstanding example of citizen journalism where ordinary citizens held the media powers-that-be to the truth.

Credit: Issues & Insights

When Liz Cheney brought out her star witness, Cassidy Hutchinson, to narrate her sensational story that former President Trump lunged for the steering wheel of the Beast to force the vehicle to go to the J6 rally, the media gasped. Thousands of stories criticized Trump for his obsession with keeping power even after losing the 2020 election. No established reporter directly questioned Hutchinson about her hearsay testimony in which she said she had overheard her then-boss, Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, talk about the lunging. 

On March 11, 2024, a House administration subcommittee on oversight released a report stating that four White House employees, under oath, directly contradicted Hutchinson's claims. One unnamed driver told the committee's investigators: "[President Trump] never grabbed the steering wheel. I didn't see him, you know, lunge to try to get into the front seat at all." These Secret Service employees are far more credible than Hutchinson. They were in the car when the alleged lunging took place. 

Again, it was citizen journalists, thousands of them who are aghast at how the Biden administration has charged and held J6 protesters in prison, who promoted the House report on X. It soon became viral, trending so rapidly that the established media outlets were forced to cover the story. 

TIPP surveys repeatedly show Americans' trust in media coverage has hit rock bottom. The media exists to promote a liberal agenda, just as authoritarian governments in Russia, Iran, China, and North Korea. In the ultimate irony, our media criticizes these governments for doing precisely what it does here at home.

Swimming underwater and some drowning - News industry off to brutal 2024 start as mass layoffs devastate publishers, raising questions about the future of journalism

The proof is in the pudding. Chickens have come home to roost for the legacy media. The festering lack of trust has persisted for too long and serves as a significant, albeit often unstated, reason behind headlines such as News industry off to brutal 2024 start as mass layoffs devastate publishers, raising questions about the future of journalism.

Thanks to X, we do not have to consume such biased corporate media content. We can judge the truth for ourselves, with no moderation needed.

Support Independent Journalism: Upgrade to a paid subscription or donate now to help tippinsights thrive as a reader-supported publication. Contact us to discuss your research/polling needs.
Letters to editor email: