Today I was in Bute Park taking photo’s for my magazine production course. The sun was shining, the autumn leaves were gently cascading to the ground and all was right with the world. Network journalism, civic journalism, online journalism; these were the last things on my mind.

But once I was back in the maglab and had begun uploading my photos to Flickr, thoughts of how I could be contributing to all these types of journalism started to trundle through my head.

I had been out and about in Cardiff, taking photo’s for the purpose of an assignment set to us by our tutors. I have never been massively into photography; I’m of the school of thought that you should live in the moment rather than see it through a lens. So I was surprised by how much I got into the assignment: two hours literally whizzed by as I was caught up in a world of angles, light and framing.

The shots I came back with were definitely worth the time and effort. Don’t get me wrong, after one- albeit beautiful- morning in the park I am under no illusions of grandeur. But because of flickr, my shots are no longer limited to an audience of family and friends.

If someone was looking for a photo to tell the story of autumn, under the Creative Commons framework they could use mine. This is just one example of how the networks in journalism are extending and how we can use them in simple yet very effective ways.

And how proud I would be! Considering that until yesterday my experience with a camera was limited to holiday snaps and photos of my friends, taken almost solely to be put up on Facebook, if someone deemed my first attempts at “real” photography good enough to use alongside their article it would tickle me pink.

So I can quite easily see how one can catch the bug and it must be a similar experience for civic journalists. To be included within the process and not be just a mere onlooker gives a great amount of buzz. I think I understand what the motivation behind being a contributor can be. To be given a voice in this way is quite a heady ego boost; the trick is learning how to use your voice in an ethical and responsible way.

As a tool for online journalism, Flickr has to be the most useful I’ve come across so far and the fact that you can use the account for a combination of personal and professional activities is great too. Consider yourself warned though, once logged in it is just as easy for the time to whiz by as you absorb the snapshots of other people’s lives as it is when you are taking the snapshots yourself. Embrace and enjoy!