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“Citizen Journalism” can never work because Old and New Media are competitors, not collaborators 8/26/07

Posted by Steve Boriss in Uncategorized.
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Last week, we witnessed another in a series of ongoing skirmishes between Old Media and New. This time it was an LA Times piece by Martin Skube dissing the quality of bloggers’ “reporting.” Citizen journalism guru Jay Rosen fired back with examples of bona fide bloggers’ scoops. Then, trying to serve as peacemaker, Jeff Jarvis, who believes the future belongs to news outlets in which journalists and citizens work closely together, did his best impersonation of video-police-battered Rodney King and essentially asked, “can’t we all get along?”

Actually, the answer is “no,” we can’t all get along. The idea of citizen journalism is based on two flawed premises: 1) that Old Media reporters would welcome the help of “amateurs” at a time when many are finding it increasingly difficult to specify the professional skills they have that others don’t; and 2) that those motivated to blog would be anxious to help an establishment whose poor perceived performance motivated so many of them to enter New Media in the first place. This is a formula for continuing skirmishes, not peace.

Old Media and New Media will always be competitors, not collaborators. It’s true that Old Media can collaborate with other Old Media outlets, but only when they believe they are not in direct competition with each other (e.g. as co-members of the AP network). And New Media can collaborate with New Media, helping prop-up each other to higher visibility (e.g. when cross-linking to each others’ sites). But, Old is Old and New is New, and never the twain shall meet.

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