Unfettered ‘citizen journalism’ too risky
Here’s what a journalism educator says about what I do and my response is below the fold. Hardly any foul language.
Having just anyone produce widely distributed stories without control can have the reverse effect from what advocates intend. It’s just a matter of time before something like a faked Rodney King beating video appears on the air somewhere.
Journalism organizations should head that off. Citizen reports can be a valuable addition to news and information flow with some protections:
â€¢ Major news organizations must create standards to substantiate citizen-contributed information and video, and ensure its accuracy and authenticity.
â€¢ They should clarify and reinforce their own standards and work through trade organizations to enforce national standards so they have real meaning.
â€¢ Journalism schools such as mine at the University of Georgia should create mini-courses to certify citizen journalists in proper ethics and procedures, much as volunteer teachers, paramedics and sheriff’s auxiliaries are trained and certified.
Journalists generally don’t like any kind of standards or regulation. Many argue that standards could infringe on freedom of the press and journalism shouldn’t be regulated.
But we have already seen the line between news and entertainment blur enough to destroy significant credibility. Continuing to do nothing as information flow changes will further erode it. Journalism organizations who choose to do nothing may soon find the line between professional and citizen journalism gone as well as the trust of their audiences.
The author blurb reads
David Hazinski, a former NBC correspondent, is an associate professor of telecommunications and head of broadcast news at the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism.
As I read the piece, Professor Hazinski is calling for standards and regulation of “citizen journalists”, bloggers and Matt Drudge types. He admits that there is little or no such standards and regulation for those he calls journalists. But, we’re the real danger here.
Professor, I am insulted. When I look at the world of journalists, the men and women that you educate and graduate, I see little sign that ethics and standards are practiced.
Anonymous sources, misstatements of fact, misquoting, staging photographs, outright falsifying of documents, and lack of fact checking are rife in journalism today. I, and those like me, could hardly do worse. Indeed, we do better.
After the Indian Ocean tsunami a United Nations official accused America and Americans of being stingy. His comment was repeated widely in the media, and not challenged. It was left to me to produce the “Stingy List”, over a billion dollars in donations from American individuals, companies and charities that went to tsunami relief and reconstruction. Reuters interviewed me about this effort.
I just published an interview with Major Gamal Awad. AP and ABC’s 20/20 had done stories on this man, and gotten it wrong. Major Awad called me after I published to tell me that I got it right.
I’ve covered the men and women who have won medals for valor in the War on Terror. Keith Yoakum and Walter Jackson were both awarded the Distinguished Service Cross in November. Jackson got his November 2, Yoakum November 11. As of November 13, no media outlet had a story about Jackson and only three had stories about Yoakum. I had covered them both.
There are dozens of other stories that I’ve covered, that the old media ignored or reported incorrectly. Other bloggers discovered and reported on Dan Rather’s creative use of forged documents, Reuters’ staging photos in Beirut, AP’s repeated bogus reporting of incidents in Iraq, and The New Republic’s utter failure to fact check a series of stories. Let’s not forget the murders and rapes in the New Orleans Superdome that never happened. There’s lots more, frauds and mistakes by journalists, journalists that graduated from institutions like the one Professor Hazinski teaches at. Oh, yeah, Professor, that whole gay general YouTube thing. CNN set that up, not citizen journalists.
Maybe I don’t want to be tarred with the term “journalist”. It makes me feel dirty, and not the nice dirty either.
Table of contents for Citizen journalist
This entry was posted on Thursday, December 13th, 2007 at 9:09 pm and is filed under Original writing, Commentary, Media, Media, Old Media, Original writing. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.