Saturday, December 15, 2007

Who Put This Guy Up to This?

Unfettered 'citizen journalism' too risky.

DAVID HAZINSKI: You're beginning to get a lot more news ... from you.

It ranges from the CNN YouTube debates to political blogs to cellphone video of that sniper who opened fire at an Omaha Mall. These are all examples of so called "citizen journalism," the hot new extension of the news business where the audience becomes the reporter.

Supporters of "citizen journalism" argue it provides independent, accurate, reliable information that the traditional media don't provide. While it has its place, the reality is it really isn't journalism at all, and it opens up information flow to the strong probability of fraud and abuse. The news industry should find some way to monitor and regulate this new trend.

----- Just what we need right? The "news industry" i.e. government and mainstream media organizations monitoring and regulating "citizen journalism."

HAZINSKI : The premise of citizen journalism is that regular people can now collect information and pictures with video cameras and cellphones, and distribute words and images over the Internet.

----- Lol, "regular people" as opposed to the professional clones that belong to the traditional news elite.

HAZINSKI : Advocates argue that the acts of collecting and distributing makes these people "journalists." This is like saying someone who carries a scalpel is a "citizen surgeon" or someone who can read a law book is a "citizen lawyer." Tools are merely that. Education, skill and standards are really what make people into trusted professionals. Information without journalistic standards is called gossip.

----- If education and standards are what makes professionals why do we have so many quacks and shysters preying on the public.

HAZINSKI : But unlike those other professions, journalism — at least in the United States — has never adopted uniform self-regulating standards. There are commonly accepted ethical principles — to source confirmation of controversial information or the balanced reporting of both sides of a story, for example, but adhering to the principles is voluntary. There is no licensing, testing, mandatory education or boards of review. Most other professions do a poor job of self-regulation, but at least they have mechanisms to regulate themselves. Journalists do not.

----- Lol again - lemme see other professions do a poor job self-regulating but at least they have a how-to doctrine in place.

HAZINSKI : So without any real standards, anyone has a right to declare himself or herself a journalist. Major media outlets also encourage it. Citizen journalism allows them to involve audiences, and it is a free source of information and video. But it is also ripe for abuse.

----- Ahhh, the old tactic of beat me, hurt me, make me write bad checks .. er ... I mean make me fake the news and go to jail.

HAZINSKI : 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.

----- Yassuh, and you know Black folks then be rioting and killin' just anyone and burning our owns neighborhood. Holyshit Bubba, a beating hoax could set off a slave uprising.

HAZINSKI : Journalism organizations should head that off. Citizen reports can be a valuable addition to news and information flow with some protections:

• Major news organizations must create standards to substantiate citizen-contributed information and video, and ensure its accuracy and authenticity.

---- Butthead, we need standards and substantiation in mainstream media now.

• They should clarify and reinforce their own standards and work through trade organizations to enforce national standards so they have real meaning.

---- Oh, yes, organizations to enforce and clarify what has real meaning.

• 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.

---- Yessirree, pay fees for those courses and certificates because mini-courses and certification stopped the unethical and unqualified folks from becoming teachers, paramedics, sheriff auxiliaries - and it will stop unethical citizen journalists.

HAZINSKI : ... 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.

---- News became infotainment long before the Internet, and a trusting audience today is a gullible and unquestioning audience.

I've witnessed more people question the MSM news since the Internet - almost always after an embarrassing incident when they cited what later proved to be hoax information or false stories - we've learned how easy it is to fake videos and photoshop. Fool me once, won't get fooled again. (Although Republicans seem more genetically inclined to take every email hoax to heart and forward far and wide, for years.)

I think serious Netizens have learned to use a critical eye in regard to information on the net, which may be the best thing to come from the worldwide web. And may yet prove to be the common man's best hope - sharing different viewpoints on the same State regulated and programmed MSM "news".

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