The Professional Journalist versus the Citizen Journalist: Friend or Foe?

Let me ask you some questions to reflect on…

What is journalism to you?

Who do think the journalists are?

Well I’m not too sure about you but when I try to answer these questions there are so many different and conflicting answers that come to mind. Some individuals believe that the power of the internet and the dominance of citizen journalists in online media forms will eventuate in the death of the newspaper. This remains a highly debatable issue on both the print and online world. This blog will focus on the debate of whether citizen journalists are obliterating the professional journalists and whether citizen journalist is a viable mechanism of journalism.

With 50 million blogs circulating the web worldwide and 175000 new blogs being created every day (Hough, 2009) it is clear that citizen journalism is a major component of the current media landscape. As Jenny, a citizen blogger states, “Blogs are used by people worldwide as a form of self expression…[and] to report the news” (Jenny,2009). However what does this mean for journalism as a profession?

With the ability to report constant 24 hour news as soon as the news breaks I am forced to question whether bloggers who have a lack of skills, ethics, standards and training result in the degradation of quality journalism? This question is also asked by professional Journalist, Amy Gahran who questions if core values of traditional journalism including objectivity and accuracy will be lost in rise of the citizen journalist (Burke,2006). Or is it possible that “amateurs can learn to produce high-quality news content” (Burke,2006). Well we all hope so in the way the media seems to be heading. Or is the “primary distinction between the two groups is gone” (Mendoza,2008). 

Citizen journalists have started to utilise user generated content, by sourcing facebook 65%, twitter (52%), and wikipedia (61%), (The Future Of  Newspapers), and how can there possibly be authenticity and accuracy? Natalie Fenton explains that, “Increasingly the emphasis is now on speed rather than depth of work and this militates against follow-up and independent verification of sources”. (Fenton 2010, p90) 

Whilst some believe that citizen journalists are threatening the future of print journalism an article titled “Citizen Journalism and the BBC” (Sambrook, 2005) presents an alternative view. The article explores the idea that print and online journalists happily co-exist. Thus ‘citizen journalists’, who have drastically changed the media landscape and the ways in which news and current affairs are distributed to the public, are seen to contribute in a positive way to news coverage. “When major events occur, the public can offer us as much new information……. From now on, news coverage is a partnership”. (Sambrook, 2005)

Kristi Carter an established and qualified journalist of ten years suggests that citizen journalists who are uninfluenced by politics and money, will have the ability to provide fair and balanced news. (Carter, 2010). Carter further argues that, “Citizen journalism is becoming a serious part of journalism today….. it is sure to continue growing through the years”(Carter, 2010).

It is clear that citizen Journalists are becoming increasingly accepted by society, with such a high readership of online blogs such as Perez Hilton and Crikey. Why don’t you have a look at these sites to get an idea of what I am talking about?

http://perezhilton.com/
your position on
http://www.crikey.com.au/

What is your opinion of Citizen Journalism? Consider this video which explains the ins and outs of citizen journalism. It may help you to decide your position on the debate.

Stay Tuned!

 References  

  1. Burke, J, 2006, ‘Citizen Journalism vs. Professional Journalism’. World Editors Forum, USA. <http://www.editorsweblog.org/analysis/2006/04/citizen_journalism_vs_professional_journ.php> [Accessed 11th August 2010]
  2. Carter K, 2010, ‘5 Facts about citizen journalism.’ Suite101, United States<http://television.suite101.com/article.cfm/5-facts-about-citizen-journalism> [accessed 3rd August 2010]
  3. Hough, L, 2009, ‘Citizen Journalism: Ally or Rival’. Blog spot, United Kingdom. <http://loishough.blogspot.com/2008/05/citizen-journalism-ally-or-rival.html> [Accessed 10th September 2010]
  4. Jenny, 2009, ‘Citizen Journalism vs. Professional Journalism?’ Bearing Partnership, United Kingdom. <http://www.bearingpartnership.com/bearings-blog/citizen-journalism-vs-professional-journalism/> [Accessed 9th October 2010]
  5. Mendoza, L, 2008, ‘Professional vs. Citizen Journalism’. University of South Carolina, USA. <http://blogs.uscannenberg.org/lauren_mendoza/2008/08/professional-vs-citizen-journa.html> [Accessed 2nd Sepember 2010]
  6. Sambrook, R. (2005). NiemanReports . Retrieved September 06, 2010, from NiemanFoundation  – http://www.nieman.harvard.edu/reportsitem.aspx?id=100542 
  7. ‘The Future of Newspapers’ http://www.slideshare.net/dirkthecow/the-future-of-newspapers-3637406 accessed 7 August 2010
  8. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zq-KF177mqA&feature=related, retrived from Youtube, [accessed 9th October]