Thursday, December 13, 2007

In an op-ed in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, former NBC correspondent David Hazinski offers a sharp rebuke to proponents of "citizen journalism."

The premise of citizen journalism is that regular people can now collect information and pictures with video cameras and cellphones, and distribute words and images over the Internet. Advocates argue that the acts of collecting and distributing makes these people "journalists." This is like saying someone who carries a scalpel is a "citizen surgeon" or someone who can read a law book is a "citizen lawyer." Tools are merely that. Education, skills and stanandards are what really make people into trusted professionals. Information without journalistic standards is called gossip.

I guess the question is: Is that true? Should journalism schools offer certification, as Hazinski suggests, to citizen journalists? Is too much information necessarily always bad? Must news be passed through the filters of giant media conglomerates before it is offered for consumption?

5 comments:

Kathleen said...

Does it really matter what the title is? People blog and post videos on YouTube and create podcasts every day on a variety of topics, some times providing information before the "giant media conglomerates" do, or highlighting items that might otherwise be ignored. Does it really matter if such people are titled "journalists" or not?

As to the question of whether or not schools should offer certification to "citizen journalists", by his own admission, "Education, skills and stanandards are what really make people into trusted professionals" so why can't a "trusted professional" be someone who taught himself how to report news the hard way, who developed the apparently necessary skills and standards, through experience, rather than attending a school?

April said...

If the fear of catagorizing certain individuals as "journalists" is due to those people not having "Education,skills, and standards" then many in the news media today should renounce their status as journalists.

Education and the skills I agree with, unfortunatley the standards now come into question. many believe that they (the standards) no longer exist. A growing number of americans no longer trust the media to "get the story right" without having some kind of political agenda or monetary goals in mind.

So keeping this in mind, why not call the "little people" journalists and not require policing by the "media conglomerates", who may or many not have an agenda, to be able to attain the title?

Anonymous said...

Mr. Hazinski is arguing about the definition of the word "journalist." His argument reminds me of a statement attributed to C. S. Lewis -- paraphrased, the statement was that if you have to define a word by stating what you do not mean when you use it, you tacitly admit that it has already taken on that meaning.

On the other hand, one of the commonly touted journalistic standards is "objectivity." On this topic. . . Well, I wouldn't trust anyone to be posting information on a topic out of disinterest. But I also do not trust professional journalists to necessarily have the time or background needed to present a truly objective picture.

Devin Stewart said...

Using a tool and getting experience does mean something on its own. If you carry a weapon and hunt, you are called a hunter whether you went to school or not. If you use a plow and harvest crops, you are called a farmer. The newspaper as a mode of information delivery has been around for hundreds of years. Those first journalists probably didn't go to school to become qualified: They just wrote. The same goes for musicians. I began my college education majoring in music until I realized that no education in the world can make a person a successful performer; music education only qualifies someone to teach.

Hugh O'Donnell said...

How about just doing it? Let the scrupes fight about the nomenclature.

Whatever you call it, "journalism," "citizen journalism," pamphleteering," respectability is earned, not conferred by a class name.

Education, skills, standards, and professionalism will evidence themselves.