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Citizen-to-Journalist relationships will be with editors about opinions, not with reporters about facts. Just like Talk Radio. 12/19/07

Posted by Steve Boriss in Citizen journalism.

The Citizen Journalism movement — defined as mainstream journalists guiding the work of volunteers — suffers from another serious flaw that I have not yet mentioned. It implicitly assumes that now that citizens can interact with journalists over the Internet, they will be highly interested in collaborating with reporters involved in the fact-collection process. Yet, logic suggests that readers/viewers are not particularly interested in doing real work, and the most news-engaged readers are much more driven by a desire to express their opinions rather than to perform “objective” investigations.

A much more natural model for Citizen-Journalist relationships is found in Talk Radio, where the host is essentially an editor of news, not a reporter. Hosts form bonds with their audiences based upon compatible values and opinions, a trusted relationship nearly impossible to forge using objective facts alone. Moreover, audiences are not burdened with the tasks of fact collection or analysis but simply react with their opinions, a much more reasonable expectation in a realm of their lives they would tend to regard as entertainment. Will mainstream journalists swallow their pride and admit that the solutions to some of their problems may lie in the practices of talk radio, a medium so many of them despise? That may be the most unreasonable expectation of all.


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