Citizen Journalism In History: Janis Krums

Citizen Journalism In History: Janis Krums


This blog is about photography just as it is about citizen journalism. It is no coincidence, since the aim of SellNews is to empower citizen journalists through information, inspiration and – obviously – through our services.

With other words: we want people to keep on doing what they love the most, namely photographing, while getting the best possible results, namely good photos (that’s what our blog is for) and the best price (that’s what our platform is for.)

When talking about citizen journalism we often refer to prominent examples which prove that citizen journalism is:

  1. not a new phenomenon – it even existed before the camera was a mass product
  2. not unimportant – without amateurs some events would remain unrecorded
  3. not unprofessional – just as in professional journalism the good, the bad & the ugly exist.

Hence today, we start a new series about well-known cases where citizen journalists broke the news.


Janis Krums & The Hudson River Miracle

In the beginning of 2009, the photo-sharing app TwitPic still existed, Janis Krums was aboard a ferry when he posted following tweet: “There’s a plane in the Hudson. I’m on the ferry going to pick up the people. Crazy.” Included was a link to a photo that showed an Airbus floating on Hudson River which Krums only took a few seconds before. Never would Janis Krums have thought that this short tweet would eventually make him the poster boy of citizen journalism.

On January 15, 2009 multiple bird strikes caused the well-known emergency water landing of US Airways Flight 1549. Though both jet engines failed, Captain Sullenberger managed to land the Airbus 320 on the Hudson River. All passengers survived and “Sully” became a national hero. (A bio-pic with the title “Sully” directed by Clint Eastwood will be released in September 2016.)

Of course, Janis Krums wasn’t the only one to take a photo that day. He likely wasn’t even the first. But he was the first to spread the message, showing how important social media has become for newsrooms these days. Not even an hour after his post hit the public, MSNBC interviewed Krums live on TV. Several interviews followed and now, years after the incident, Janis Krums is still a popular interview partner on the topic of citizen journalism.

Unfortunately, it is undisclosed how much money he made from this.