Citizen Journalism

Posted on June 6, 2007. Filed under: Main Stream Media, News |

Over the past year, a number of high-powered journalists wrote articles that have disparaged “citizen journalism” and “blogs” as less than authentic sources of important news. They have basically said that these new media outlets can cover stories as sophisticated as local traffic jams and as complicated as announcing a school snow day. But in all this smug self-assurance and backslapping, one can smell their fear of the future. If the issue were so cut and dried, they would not have to say it so vociferously. Newspaper reporters are scared for their jobs. I would argue, however, that they have very little to fear from either blogs or citizen journalism. I’ll come back to this later.

What is important about personal blogs and citizen journalism is that they create conversations that make us a freeer people. The miraculous thing is that it does not matter how large one’s readership is. If no one reads a blog (and that’s almost never precisely true), than the blogger has at the very least personally benefitted from the experience. If the blogger has a million readers, so much the better. Most personal blogs are the not for profit kind. The most important benefit from these news sources is that it has the potential to allow the millions of articulate and literate men, women, and children to have a voice. The best outcome would be if these voices questioned conventional wisdom and fearlessly struggled to demystify the exceedingly complex issues of the day. In these pursuits they rely in part on professional reporters and authors.

  • Quotes of the Day

    "Writing editorials is like wetting your pants in a blue serge suit. It feels good, but nobody really notices."

    --Jack Germond

    "Famous men and women, by the act of putting themselves on display, whether as politicians, actors, writers, painters, musicians, restaurateurs, or whatever, invite public appraisal. They are all, impressively or pathetically, acting on the presumption that their ideas, their fantasies, their music, their bodies are more original than those of, say, a plumber or a certified public accountant. They are all exercising the impulse, as Mencken put it, ‘to flap their wings in public.’ This is so obvious to the critic–and, I believe, to the ordinary reader or spectator–that it seems hardly worth saying. But resentment of the practice of criticism itself is strong among professional artists (and all Presidents of the United States). There is a psychological type among them that hates critics on principle as parasites or failed performers. This is very natural but surely very childish and, in any country claiming to be civilized, actually anti-social. The existence of critics, good, bad, or indifferent, is a firm clause in the social contract between the governors and the governed in any nation that is not a dictatorship. Public figures should accept with good grace the public response to their invitations to be admired and resist the temptation to retort, except in the face of flagrant malice."

    --Alistair Cooke

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