Some professor of communications thinks citizen journalism is “too risky” Updates

posted at 8:50 pm on December 13, 2007 by Bryan

Yawn. Tell it Helen Thomas, Dr. David Hazinski, former NBC correspondent turned associate professor of telecommunications and head of broadcast news at the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism. She’s got your back.

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.

Actually, citizen journalists usually have to spend some of our time fact-checking the lies coming from the so-called pros. Ever heard of fauxtography, Dr. Hazinski? Google it. You’ll be there a while.

We haven’t seen any fraud from the MSM, have we? Nah. No international wires hiring terrorist propagandists. No major network news broadcasts airing fake documents. Nah. That only happens on blogs. Right.

With all due respect, professor, go fact-check yourself.

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. 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.

Right. Because writing a story that gets the 5 W’s and an H all squared away is just like going through 10 years of extra school followed by an internship followed by residency, all leading to an individual having both the scientific understanding and the sharpened skill to cut someone’s heart open to trim out a tumor. Yup. Just the same. Getting a quote right and in context and being fair to all involved is just like knowing case law and precedent going back to the founding of the country. Same same. Perfect metaphors, ace. Just spiffy.

Where do universities find such facile thinkers? Why do they give such shallow twits tenured jobs? Oh, right. Because they couldn’t get jobs anywhere else. And birds of a feather waste your tax dollars together.

But unlike those other professions, journalism — at least in the United States — has never adopted uniform self-regulating standards. There are commonly accepted ethical principals — two source confirmation of controversial information or the balanced reporting of both sides of a story, for example, but adhering to the principals 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.

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.

Yup, it is ripe for abuse. Just ask Jayson Blair and Frank Foer and Scott Beauchamp and Dan Rather and Mary Mapes and Dateline NBC and Stephen Glass and CNN (Operation Tailwind AND Eason Jordan’s confessed Iraq cover-up) and the Associated (with terrorists) Press and al-Reuters and all those others actually were considered professional journalists and who abused their position. Ask them before you get all high and mighty about citizen journalists.

Professor, regulate thyself. And read the First Amendment while you’re at it.

Read the rest of this tripe if you want, it’s at the link. I’m done with this Dr. Hazinski. If he wants to regulate blogs or set up a gate to his dishonest journalism priesthood, I have three words for him: Make our day. For every one instance of a blogger doing wrong, there are probably ten so-called professionals doing something far worse. The difference usually is when a blogger does wrong, he gets found out, shamed, mocked and ostracized. When a journalist does wrong, he just moves to a different network. So bring it on, professor.

Update: To borrow a useful word, indeed.

Update: Reader Scott says–

I can’t help remembering that the paper that published this, my home town AJC, is the one that made Richard Jewell’s life a living hell basically because they had a rumor, and, since the “big boys” of the MSM were in town for the Olympics, they didn’t want to get “scooped” on their own ground, so the safeties came off. If another industry had acted in such a self-serving cowboy fashion, the AJC would have eviscerated them.

That’s right. The pros at the AJC convicted Jewell before he’d ever been charged with anything. The pros didn’t exactly cover themselves in glory during the Duke non-rape fiasco either, and it took blogger KC Johnson’s tenacious effort to start setting things right in that case.


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Only an Academic could believe this.

TheSitRep on December 13, 2007 at 8:54 PM

What’s risky is going to J-school these days. Newspaper circulation plummeting, layoffs in newsrooms. Much cheaper to get a bathrobe and laptop. Maybe that’s what he’s PO’d at.

JiangxiDad on December 13, 2007 at 9:05 PM

Looks like a case of Blog Hate Syndrome (and maybe a little jelousy) to me.

AZCON on December 13, 2007 at 9:06 PM

Phhhht! Last gasp of a dying breed.

Exit question- how does this tie in with the current writer’s strike and whether they’re being missed by the media?

Scotsman on December 13, 2007 at 9:09 PM

Another antique media relic. I’ve know some good journalists in my day and way too many hacks who take themselves too seriously.

Like that idiot.

JammieWearingFool on December 13, 2007 at 9:13 PM

Citizen journalism? I thought it was called free speech? All I can say is poor Richard poor poor Richard.

sonnyspats1 on December 13, 2007 at 9:13 PM

The MSM gets it wrong more often than not. . . here’s a stab at citizen journalism for me now.

Al Gore bashes America again in Bali and makes international news. He makes no mention of the suicide bombings that occurred there. He says that America is responsible for the problems that they are having in Bali. This citizen journalist would appreciate if someone who has benefited from this GREAT country that has benefited the rest of the world would refrain from throwing stones at it internationally.

But I agree, having a story like that would be risky. We don’t want to make our Nobel Peace prize winner look bad do we?

ThackerAgency on December 13, 2007 at 9:13 PM

With all due respect, professor, go fact-check yourself.

Perfect.

What an arrogant SOB.

Frozen Tex on December 13, 2007 at 9:15 PM

Next he’ll be against citizen voters.

profitsbeard on December 13, 2007 at 9:16 PM

My father was a physician; God rest his soul. I would be a bad son and a damn fool to equate my work as a journalist with even one day of his being on call in a busy ER.

IMHO the most frustrating thing about journalism is the editing process. Anyone can be trained to ask the right questions and sufficiently source facts they have gathered. One can even learn to sniff out a good scoop with some guidance. Hell, digital recorders preclude even needing to learn shorthand or notetaking. However, not everyone can handle some poorly-dressed, underpaid, schlub telling them that their thoughts are muddled and their grammar is atrocious.

Though humbling, good editing makes for good writing.

Journalists and newspapers refused to embrace technology and interactivity for almost a decade. Recently tumbling ad buys and circulation numbers have caused a industry-wide panic. Citizen journalism represents easy access to a once protected class of citizenry. They don’t want you at their party.

The Race Card on December 13, 2007 at 9:20 PM

Next he’ll be against citizen voters.

profitsbeard on December 13, 2007 at 9:16 PM

Excellent.

The Race Card on December 13, 2007 at 9:21 PM

When a journalist does wrong, he just moves to a different network.

Or gets a job in academia…

Doctor, eh? Sounds like he spent a loooooong time in the embrace of academia, then used his CV to get a network job.

What, did it get too tough actually, you know working in his field of expertise (that would be the one desperately declaring itself a profession, despite having no codified standards, or board certifications, or…) so, he…what…went running back to academia.

I’m thinking his immersion in academia explains a lot more his desire to regulate (read: censor) specifically the people that demonstrate, on a daily basis, that hey, the emperor’s new clothes were actually just the latest markdown special at the local Wal Mart.

Over educated by half

Wind Rider on December 13, 2007 at 9:23 PM

Yep, and Berklee College of Music grads say they are superior to self-taught musicians. Tell that to the greatest self-taught jazz/rock/etc.. musicians in the world. Some of the best players out there can’t tell you what they do, they let the Berklee grads analyze/teach it.

nottakingsides on December 13, 2007 at 9:26 PM

Dr. David Hazinski, former NBC correspondent turned associate professor of telecommunications and head of broadcast news at the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism.

This guy holds a PhD??? He must have found the certificate in a Cracker Jack Box! And I’m sure the alumni of the Univ. of GA are tickled pink to hear the above glittering gems of stupidity… how proud they must be.

Zorro on December 13, 2007 at 9:27 PM

the reality is it really isn’t journalism at all, and it opens up information flow to the strong probability of fraud and abuse.

And Jayson Blair and Dan Rather are upstanding examples of journalists? Give me a break!

Hazinski, clearly, has no sense of historical perspective. The print media essentially arose out of “citizen journalists” reporting what they saw and heard (and their impressions of it all). The “journalists” of the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries were rarely concerned with two source confirmation of controversial information or the balanced reporting of both sides of a story! Ben Franklin’s work alone refutes the whole idea that journalism was a noble profession until all those nasty bloggers got involved.

IMO, the problem here is a dinosaur journalist in denial about the new reality. The public doesn’t need the NYT or some other group of journalists to report and interpret stories because there are multiple sources and countless photos/video to refute the party line. The media, therefore, is no longer able to manipulate the facts to fit the leanings of the editorial board.

I am not wrong about this but I may be more crabby about it than I would be otherwise. The New Orleans Times-Picayune just shrunk their comics to one page. This was my last excuse to keep subscribing to this once vibrant paper.

highhopes on December 13, 2007 at 9:28 PM

I flunked freshman level Lapel Up/Down in Journalism school, so I switched to Engineering.

Dusty on December 13, 2007 at 9:32 PM

And ‘Common Sense’ would be just advice not to stick your finger in a light socket.

Limerick on December 13, 2007 at 9:35 PM

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.

Thank you Dr. Hazinski for proving that arrogant so called journalists feel they’re the fourth branch of government.

Firmworm on December 13, 2007 at 9:35 PM

Lets ponder,dogooder citizen has no agenda,gets a story,
gets side A,gets side B,reports said information,information
is crystal clear.So citizen journalist is TOO RISKY,and
TOO RISKY for who, Liberals or indoctrinated Liberal
PROFESSORS!

canopfor on December 13, 2007 at 9:47 PM

Hazinski’s article wasn’t about journalistic standards, it’s about the liberal MSM trying to discredit a competing message in the marketplace. He can’t say that, thus the red herring. But we know the truth.

jaime on December 13, 2007 at 9:49 PM

The public news industry should find some way to monitor and regulate this new trend idiot professors.

BacaDog on December 13, 2007 at 9:53 PM

There are commonly accepted ethical principals — two source confirmation of controversial information or the balanced reporting of both sides of a story.

So, Dr. Hazinski, what do you call a journalist when they’re 0 for 2 on the above?

BacaDog on December 13, 2007 at 9:59 PM

I believe Citizen Journalism is, in a sense, a purer (if thats a word) discipline than the mainstream corporate press. The “free press” in this country has monetized itself to the point where it can no longer claim itself to be independent of influence. Citizen journalism, although not perfect, exists in a free market of ideas and accountability. The citizen journalism free market has evolved into a network of accountability partners and fact checkers like the mainstream press has never known.

And while I am ranting,,,at what point did some of these professional journalists start to view themselves as having some divinely appointed mission or profession here on Earth? What’s so magical about that gig? You don’t care for the elderly, heal the sick, or provide shelter to the homeless. Get over yourself.

realVerse on December 13, 2007 at 10:11 PM

One of the editors in our local paper wrote a signed piece declaring two local blogs dangerous because people were allowed to give their opinions anonymously and were not held accountable. Such irony to do this on an editorial page right next to THREE unsigned editorials in his own paper. The ownly accountability he has is to the owners of his paper and the people who buy it and advertise in it. Not much different than a blog. If people don’t read the blog the opinions don’t count for much. The establishment media has gone off the deep end.

Terri on December 13, 2007 at 10:25 PM

Buy Danish,

Is this the story you were looking for?

RW_theoriginal on December 13, 2007 at 10:38 PM

All I can say is poor Richard poor poor Richard.

sonnyspats1 on December 13, 2007 at 9:13 PM

Guess he could start an Almanack…

mikeyboss on December 13, 2007 at 11:02 PM

This is a great recap of journalistic malpractice (through October 7, 2007) for the UGA professor to mull over for a little reality check before he kills the First Amendment. From the American Thinker, The Dishonest 101.

Buy Danish on December 13, 2007 at 11:15 PM

Hey, when you’ve got a monopoly or cartel, you don’t like to get edged out.

Tzetzes on December 13, 2007 at 11:16 PM

RW,

Yes, indeed! It won’t be missed now :-)

Buy Danish on December 13, 2007 at 11:16 PM

Nuclear physics. Brain surgery. Journalism.

Ali-Bubba on December 13, 2007 at 11:34 PM

Nuclear physics. Brain surgery. Journalism.

Ali-Bubba on December 13, 2007 at 11:34 PM

Which of these two is not like the others?

Bryan on December 13, 2007 at 11:35 PM

Heh Bryan, nuclear physics, though brain surgery on an empty brain won’t do him much good either.

Entelechy on December 13, 2007 at 11:46 PM

Where do universities find such facile thinkers? Why do they give such shallow twits tenured jobs? Oh, right. Because they couldn’t get jobs anywhere else.

Clearly the linked article is flawed, so flawed that it probably wasn’t worth your time to comment. Nevertheless, the belief that “Those who can’t, teach” is not accurate for most professors. Indeed, if anything, it works the other way: Those who can’t hack academia wind up in the “real world,” and those who rise to the top of their real world professions are the few eligible for academic jobs. At least that’s the lesson I’ve learned watching those who’ve opted to spend the beginning of their careers outside of academia now trying to get in. These aren’t j-school people, but the same laws of supply and demand apply; more so, actually, because there’s way more demand for engineers than for journalists.

calbear on December 14, 2007 at 12:19 AM

The news industry should find some way to monitor and regulate this new trend.

Hey, monitor it all you want. And if we ‘citizen journalists’ make a factual error or outright lie, expose us.

What’s the opposite of ‘citizen journalist’ anyway? A Non-Citizen Journalist? An Illegal Alien Journalist? A Non-Citizen Non-Journalist?

Whatever. Monitor away all you want… we monitor you, and expose your lies and anti-factual reporting,, so I guess turnabout is fair play.

But REGULATE us??????? I don’t think so.
“We don’t got to show you no steenking badges.”

LegendHasIt on December 14, 2007 at 1:11 AM

Physicians, attorney’s, psychologists, hell even taxi drivers all have to pass some accreditation administered by the resident state of the practitioner. I am unaware of any such licensing board in my state of Indiana for the High Exalted position of “Journalist”. Mike Wallace never attended a journalism school of which I am aware. Jane Pauley has a degree in Political Science from Indiana University, she MAY have minored in Journalism but I don’t think she did. Peter Jennings dropped out of Journalism School in Canada before he graduated. Yet all of these august persons are hailed in the media as Journalists of the first order.

Methinks the good professor complains too much.

EvilRoy on December 14, 2007 at 1:15 AM

Heh, some of us might even have a righteous blog, heh heh

Kini on December 14, 2007 at 3:25 AM

If one group is ‘citizen’ journalists who are the other guys? Alien journalists? Super-citizen journalists?

Or are the other guys just MSM journalists?

If so, this professor being out of the MSM is also a citizen journalist

There is no licensing, testing, mandatory education or boards of review

Could it be because of the First Amendment?

What a shame. The Constitution prevents the licensing and regulation of journalists due to an obsolete ‘freedom of the press’ clause.

Disgusting that ignoramuses and commoners can prance around pretending to be journalists when all the time they are mere college professors

Did this guy get his degree from the Wizard of Oz?

entagor on December 14, 2007 at 3:50 AM

According to Grady College’s website, Hazinski has an M.A., not a Ph.D.

As a college professor with an earned Ph.D., I have news for Mr. Hazinski: Journalism majors (and Education majors) are the stupidest, laziest students I have. They are completely uninterested in learning the rules of grammar, spelling, and punctuation that they should have learned in elementary school. They do not want to have to write, much less do research. They simply want to have their faces grace our television sets, be famous, and make big money.

In other words, Mr. Hazinski, Kierkegaard was right: Journalism is not a profession, but a mission; however, Kierkegaard, who is also said something to the effect that he could forgive a daughter who sank into prostitution, but a son who became a journalist would be disowned on the spot, could not have known precisely how low the mission of journalism has sunk. Low enough, it appears, to have a former correspondent cum college professor proposing that pesky First Amendment should only protect members of his “profession.” Anyone read Animal Farm lately?

DrMagnolias on December 14, 2007 at 6:50 AM

By this guy’s standards, Ben Franklin wouldn’t be a journalist either! OMG thats funny! Funny that, a lot of lib newspaper people fEEEeeeeel that way.

If you ask the questions, get some answers, write them down and publish them, TA DA. You are in fact, a journalist.

dogsoldier on December 14, 2007 at 6:52 AM

This is nothing more than journalism majors and their academic gurus attempting to protect their turf. Observing, reporting and analyzing the world is not the private domain of professional journalists, nor must one belong to some predefined academic cult to perform the tasks thoroughly, accurately and honestly. Written and spoken words are powerful tools that can change attitudes and influence behavior and they should be critically challenged. The checks, balances and independent interpretations applied by the alternative media is not only proper, it’s absolutely necessary. The mainstream media cult must get used to it, because it’s not going away.

rplat on December 14, 2007 at 7:39 AM

If journalists are not trained properly, they could miss the message to attack Republicans. This could be dangerous.

The worse possible thing that could happen, and is highly unlikely, would be a practice of running endless articles on someone like Huckabee. Impossible.

Hening on December 14, 2007 at 8:08 AM

I’ll take the MSM semi-seriously only when they collectively rise and say “Our God, Walter Cronkite, got Viet Nam wrong.” Not before….and probably not after.

Patrick S on December 14, 2007 at 8:20 AM

The difference usually is when a blogger does wrong, he gets found out, shamed, mocked and ostracized.

And usually within a few hours.

On the other hand, when the so-called mainstream media gets it wrong, a correction (if any) doesn’t get published for days, long after the interest in the story is passed – or it’s become viral in it’s erroneous form – and that correction is printed in small type at the bottom of page D-20.

The so-called “mainstream media” has no credibility anymore; they know it, and they are trying both to cover up their abject failure and to prevent anyone else from disclosing their shortcomings.

Rusty Bill on December 14, 2007 at 8:45 AM

He’s just trying to protect his job. After all, if anyone with talent can do it, why bother with the middle man.

jeanie on December 14, 2007 at 9:10 AM

If they want journalistic standards, how about we start with:

“All corrections and/or retractions will be placed in the exact same place, with the exact same prominence, in the exact same size font of the headline in which the erroneous information was originally published.”

Then I might consider calling journalism a profession worthy of exclusivity.

James on December 14, 2007 at 10:40 AM

Speaking of journalistic standards……

the PhD media guy implies that bloggers lack “ethical principals”

Doesn’t he really mean they lack “ethical principles”? I usually
get these mixed up, but then again, I don’t have a PhD in Journalism.
So please correct me if I’m wrong.

But if I’m right, someone should really hammer this guy over the
mistake (if it is a mistake), and if I am correct, does that mean I get to be a newspaper editor?

I must be wrong. The layers and layers of editors in the “Real Media” would never allow such a simple mistake. Would I were correct, though, because the irony would have been simply wonderful.

Think they would print a correction? (and what would it read?)

Americano on December 14, 2007 at 11:05 AM

Note to MSM:

Your principal principle should be that youse spel more gooder than the stoopid bloggers.

Americano on December 14, 2007 at 11:08 AM

The news industry should find some way to monitor and regulate this new trend.

In the real world this is called fascism.

N. O'Brain on December 14, 2007 at 11:16 AM

With all due respect, professor, go f

act

-check yourself.

There. I like that better. Elitist jagoff.

tickleddragon on December 14, 2007 at 11:55 AM

Ha…well at least I tried.

tickleddragon on December 14, 2007 at 11:56 AM

Hey, here’s a line for you …

It’s just a matter of time before something like a faked Rodney King beating video appears on the air somewhere.

Well… it already has. It was called a fake memo, and it was presented NOT by a citizen journalist, but by Dan Rather, a member of the so-called ‘professional’ jouralist class.

Go fact-check yourself, indeed!

psrch on December 14, 2007 at 12:12 PM

Hazinski’s self-glorification is contemptible. With MSM on the ropes going into Round 10, you’d think they’d be able to take a more serious approach to issues.

petefrt on December 14, 2007 at 1:02 PM

So, to sum up in actual straightforward words, the bad prof believes HIS private industry should have the power to regulate competing speech.

Molon labe, dumbass.

Merovign on December 14, 2007 at 2:09 PM

Well done Bryan.

Griz on December 14, 2007 at 5:45 PM