Citizen Journalist

Posted: 15th September 2009 by kcshoe in Archive, Media

In exploring the State of the Media website, I was immediately drawn to the section on developing trends. The nature of new media begs an avid watcher of growing trends because getting even a little out of date is unacceptable in the industry. Journalists, bloggers, and writers who are on top of Facebook, Twitter, and Digg will bulldoze over those who haven’t adopted the networks. What immediately interested me was the notion of the individual voice becoming as valuable and legitimate as that of a vetted journalist. I think of this movement as the quintessential double-edged sword. Every writer having an equal voice and space to speak allows those who would otherwise be locked out of the industry to have a fighting chance at gaining an audience. It also provides readers a widespread selection of viewpoints and opinions. But readers must immediately acquire an advanced filter; otherwise, significant writing can get lost in the murky collection of everyone else’s text. Then again, who is the judge of what is significant and important? Should a judge exist when the Internet has no gatekeeper for contributors of text, or is that the beauty of it?

This section of The State of the Media on trends describes the issue clearly:

But for a few journalists at least, there are signs of a new prospect: individual journalists, funded by a mix of sources, offering expert coverage to many places. The movement offers the possibility of more skilled reporting from the field. Yet it would also require consumers to be discriminating and raises questions about how news organizations would ensure quality and reliability.

An article I found is stunningly relative considering it was written well over a year ago. Lisa Williams terms herself as a citizen journalist who watched fellow journalist experience what she describes as the print media career equivalent to The Titanic. In her point of view, those locked into the dying aspect of the industry could only await their inevitable demise while those who understood the fatality of the iceberg boarded lifeboats they had to steer themselves.

As the web, software, and news become a single industry, the stability and security we knew when our founding institutions were big and strong are gone and will never return. Gone with them are the sclerotic bureaucracy. Gone with them is the feeling of giving up changing anything because you can’t even figure out how many people to ask for permission. All of these and more are as dead as IBM’s dress code of blue blazer, red tie, white shirt.

One of the most encouraging aspects of her piece is that in spite of the trend of everyone with a connection to the Internet having equal weight and an equal chance to acquire an audience, those who jumped from the sinking ship at least have experience in the waters.