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Another reason Citizen Journalism will not work — the Old Media Old Guard won’t let it 12/17/07

Posted by Steve Boriss in Citizen journalism.

I have already weighed-in that “Citizen Journalism” (CitJ) will not produce a competitive news product — with CitJ defined as efforts in which journalists at mainstream outlets direct the work of volunteers. But I also now believe that we will never find out whether I was right. The Old Media Old Guard seem to be rejecting CitJ as a worthwhile experiment, most likely because the whole idea that mere citizens can do similar work to that of mainstream journalists threatens to undermine their entire reason for being. And, that’s why they are now on the attack. NY Times Executive Editor Bill Keller recently slammed the idea that CitJ could match the Times’ “journalism of verification,” which curiously no one has ever actually seen in writing. Now, journalism professor and former NBC correspondent David Hazinski has jumped-in to second Keller’s CitJ attacks, while laughably defining this “journalism of verification” that citizens allegedly cannot do as “two source confirmation of controversial information.” (BTW, I’ll leave it to others to comment on Hazinski’s other-worldly notions that Old Media ought to somehow “monitor and regulate” free speech from citizens who post news, and that journalists are the nation’s arbiters of what constitutes “gossip”).

While I personally believe CitJ is doomed (commenters: note my definition above), there are people I respect out there trying to make it work. Sadly, my sense is that the Old Guard has been patronizing these individuals and their ideas, and is now attacking them. Of course, it’s not like mainstream outlets are listening to anyone else, as they cling to the idea that most of what they need to do is simply transfer the existing objective, serious tone model to the Internet. So my advice to CitJ’ers is that since the Old Guard is not open to your ideas or anyone else’s anyway, just go it alone. There might be only one thing that you and Old Media can agree upon — you do not need each other. (H/T: Keith Bertelsen)


1. Jim Cundiff - 12/17/07

I hope that David Hazinski realizes that he and others who would try to limit Citizen Journalists (if that’s the term we are going to apply to independent reporters and columnists using the web as their medium) are doomed to failure. There is no putting this genie back in its bottle.

I also think it’s interesting to note that Hazinski is advocating training and certification of journalists – a “service” that his consulting company IMC Intelligent Media Consultants (http://www.intelligentmc.com) undoubtedly makes a little coin providing.

Could Hazinski be playing both sides of the fence on this issue?

No. Say it ain’t so.

2. Lucas Grindley - 12/18/07

Citizen Journalism is a low-end attack on mainstream journalism’s bread and butter. But every successful low-end competitor in the market usually eats its way upward to more desirable markets. That’s what the Innovator’s Dilemma taught us.

Take Gawker, for example. They started as a lowly gossip blog and are now making the move to break actual news.

News editors shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss Citizen Journalism and its many forms. It’s easy to dismiss an oak tree when it’s only a seedling.

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