Wednesday, March 01, 2006

WHAT IS JOURNALISM? Drowning in a journalism think tank


Forwarding a a post at BuzzMachine - by Jeff Jarvis
BuzzMachine <> Tuesday, February 28, 2006

I'm just catching up with this. Poynter's "ethics group leader" Kelly
McBride decrees that citizen journalism isn't journalism:


It's great that newspapers host these sites. It's a wonderful service for
community. They are often interesting, vibrant and exciting.
How incredibly condescending. Yes, one could say the same of newspapers,
couldn't one?

But it's not journalism. So don't call it that. Who died and gave you the keys to the profession and the dictionary? Journalism is an independent act of gathering and assembling information by an organization. That's patently absurd. What does an organization have to do with it? Journalism is an act that can occur anywhere, anytime, by anyone.

The work is completed in service of the audience. The journalists' loyalities are with the reader and viewer. You might question the independence and loyality of various news organizations, or even all news organizations. But at least, in theory, you expect those values to guide the process of gathering news. Try flow-charting the logic of that paragraph. I expect my friends and neighbors - the citizens who report - to be guided by values, too.. more than organizations.

I'll tell you one thing that citizen journalists don't have or need: "ethics group leaders." Such people are appointed by think tanks precisely because there are organizational ethical lapses that make people think there is a need for such a thing. This comes out of the kerfuffle over people gaming Yourhub by putting up press releases as if they were stories. Well, that's reason enough to throw out the medium. But, of course, then tv stations and newspapers running press releases - glorified with a run through the typewriter, or not - would cause a similar dismissal of them as journalism, wouldn't it?

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