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Well…that was uplifting…

Okay, to be honest, I didn’t really like this week’s readings. They were depressing for me to read. The topic was citizen journalism and how it’s becoming more and more popular and how traditional journalism is steadily declining. Now, that will really make somebody who’s going to school for a degree in journalism feel even more reassured about the job market. Good lord, I’m weeks away from graduating and am anxious enough about entering the real world. This week’s readings in both Dispatches from Blogistan and We the Media discussed how this seems to be the direction people are going in to get their news. If that’s true, then what have I been going to school for these past four years?

The topic itself is interesting and I can see the arguments for it. We as journalists sometimes get so focused on writing a story from a specific angle we lose sight of the greater picture. We’re so focused on the story we’ve already half written in our heads (trust me, it really does happen that way sometimes) that we fail to look for other facts and tidbits that may be just as newsworthy. I’ve done it before and I’m sure it’ll happen again. I’m only human and therefore, bound to make human mistakes. So I can honestly see the benefits of citizen journalism. It never hurts to have another set of eyes on watch. It’ll also present a challenge to us journalists to do a more thorough job when it comes to reporting the news and deciding what’s newsworthy. So, the idea is obviously not without merit.

But with all of this going on, I started thinking about the repercussions of having a public turning to citizen journalism for their news. When you go to school for a degree in journalism, you don’t just “learn to write.” Honestly, I think that if you want to become a journalist you should already know how to. That’s the reason you’re going into the field, isn’t it? As journalists we also have to consider the ethics of our job as well as the legal issues that may arise from what we say and print. That being said, I started wondering how this aspect of journalism would affect citizen journalists. One positive thing from this reading that I found was the end of the chapter in Dispatches from Blogistan had tips concerning these issues. Obviously, the standards would be a bit different, but I’d like to think that if a person is serious about being a citizen journalist, they would be responsible enough to take the time to look into these things before posting anything. It adds to their reliability as a source just as it does to ours.

Questions:

1. What kinds of adjustments to the field do you perceive have to be made to the field of journalism to stay on track with the way people get their news?

2. How can citizen journalists make sure that they may be regarded on the same level as professional journalists (in terms of being a reliable source of news)?

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7 comments on “Well…that was uplifting…

  1. I definitely share your feelings on graduating with a degree in a field that seems like its dying. But, I think there is a place for all of us in the online community and I think there are a lot of things we, as journalism students (and future journalists) can learn from citizen bloggers. It seems to me that right now, the people who take the time to make posts on news blog sites as citizen journalists are the people who really care about what they are writing. Similar to the majority of people who edit postings on Wikipedia. I think these postings will help journalists with getting rid of the whole “I just need a good quote to finish this already written story” mentality. Maybe our field isn’t dying, maybe it’s just being reinvented…

  2. When I was reading last week’s readings I felt the exact same way. I touched on this subject in my blog, but I like how you went more in-depth on it here. I remember seeing the article in Seventeen Magazine and it talked about young woman entrepreneurs and how in their teenage year’s they started an online business or magazine and now they are making a decent profit. One girl was even able to purchase a new house. The money we pay for school seems to be become undermined by someone with an idea and access to an HTML website. But to each her own — right? Getting a steady job as a journalist isn’t easy and with the rise of citizen journalism, I am getting worried about job security in the future. Yes, it is easier to write without a deadline and without an editor looking over one’s shoulder, but how will the public respond to this growing divide? Despite the negative connotations, I will remain positive and hey, if Tracy Record moved from the professional to the citizen journalist sphere, so can I.

  3. Though the readings often paint a bleak picture of journalism in future, I believe that having the citizen journalists around will make newsgathering a more efficient way of producing news. The professional journalists can gather breaking news, cover press conferences, etc, and the citizen journalists can gather news from their daily observations, insider’s knowledge and post them on their blog. The amount of public reaction to them will help editors determine if the news is worthy of sending reporters, photographers and taking up the space in the newspapers. This way, the mainstream newspaper will cover news that are impactful and significant to the readers. We are still pretty useful afterall!

  4. Yeah, I think all you ladies have a great point in that citizen journalism can only improve the field. And after thinking about it for awhile, as well as having similar discussions in my classes, it seems as if we (not “we” as in the four of us, but “we” as in journalists as a whole) have kind of had it coming. I mean, throughout the years, journalists have always felt that we were the only ones who could report the news and we were the ones who would decide what was newsworthy and what wasn’t. Because of this, because of this arrogance, we’ve been a bit slow on the uptake with new technologies and the direction of where the field is going. It’s kind of like that whole saying of how you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Well, I would hope that with this new generation, we are able to get this dog to do more than just roll over.

  5. Sami, thanks for being open and sharing your feelings. Understand that I’m not trying to paint a doom-and-gloom picture, but instead a realistic one. Be prepared! Learn the new skills so you can ride out these changes!

  6. […] how it undermines my training and reason for being in college, I’ve already talked about that here. One thing that makes me view blogs as a not-so-bad thing is that with bloggers and citizen […]

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