Thursday, November 12, 2009
Bloggers as Journalists?
I recently had the pleasure of making an acquaintance with a reporter for the local newspaper. We got to talking and discovered that she maintained a blog about the beat she covers with the newspaper. She is an aviation and aerospace reporter, which is important in our community because we have a number of airplane factories here as well as an air force base. I was impressed with her knowledge of the industry and her professionalism. I told her I had recently begun a blog. She seemed very interested in what I was doing with it and we discussed various aspects of the blogging world. She invited me to a forum discussion to be held a few days later on the topic of "Citizen Media". I was not at all sure why she invited me, or If I really wanted to go, but it sounded at least a bit interesting and I decided to go even though I wasn't sure what to expect or learn from it. I learned that the term "Citizen Media" or "Citizen Journalism" might be defined as the provision or production of journalistic information by ordinary citizens. A contrasting term, "Industrial Media", was mentioned during the meeting to identify those journalists who actually get paid by newspapers, radio and television stations and other media outlets. The Internet, by the use of sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Blogger and many other networking sites has enabled ordinary citizens to play a larger role in the provision of journalistic information. For example: Much of what we know about the recent events in Iran regarding the protests over the recent elections came largely from people with cell phones, posting movies, pictures and text to the internet. Industrial Media was not allowed to report on these events. Improvements in technology have made the provision of information so much quicker. A virtual revolution may be occurring in journalism today. Some people think that the Citizen Media now has the ability to provide an important watchdog function for society. Locally we have a newspaper reporter that covers events at the courthouses. He regularly twitters during the day as to the events of an important trial, then later in the day composes an actual article for the paper to be published and delivered to your door the next morning. But by the time that paper is delivered, for many people, it is already old news. The internet sites can provide the information much quicker and If getting the information quickly is your bag, then the internet is the way to go. The role of the Citizen Media may be growing as changes in technology improve peoples ability to share information. Also, as the Industrial Media continues its decline in employment, the resources available to the Industrial Media are declining as well. The Industrial Media cannot cover everything that happens in the world anymore. Citizen Media can provide an important role and the Industrial Media is beginning to recognize and evaluate information provided by the Citizen Media. There are some concerns about information provided by Citizen Media because ordinary people are not trained journalists. The reliability of information and ethics are rightfully a concern to the Industrial Media. But the information is quick and in many situations faster than what the Industrial Media can provide. Whether we realize it or not, we bloggers may also be journalists. In many cases it might be more "Op Ed" than actual news reporting, but we have the capability to be Citizen Journalists. We can write about our hobbies and talk about our lives, but we can also be citizen watchdogs and providers of information for the more traditional Industrial Media. There may be more power there than we realize. I know I do a lot of things with my cell phone. I composed this post on my phone. This BlackBerry enables me to do so much more than the phone I had just a year and a half ago. I wonder what my phone will be like in another couple of years. With all this in mind, there are 3 pieces of advice that I picked up from the meeting. 1) Seek the Truth Avoid bias If possible and be careful not to get fooled about something that may not be immediately obvious. 2) Act Independently Maintain your Objectivity If you are rendering an opinion, say so. 3) Minimize Potential Harms Be careful not to libel or invade peoples privacy. Thanks, Molly for inviting me. Now If we could only figure out a way to make a bunch of money doing this. Sent from my BlackBerry® smartphone with SprintSpeed