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.