July 9, 2013

Glassholes and "Citizen Journalism"


An article published in Ars Technica today about a Google Glass user referred to the individual's filming a street altercation as "citizen journalism". This individual not only filmed the sidewalk drama and all the passers-by and audience, he posted it publicly onto YouTube. Without permission of the parties being filmed, and states "99 percent" of those filmed "did not know what I was wearing." The rise in smartphones with cameras and the introduction of this newest technology is increasing the odds of each of us becoming "news" of some sort in the future.

We need to be crystal clear here. There is nothing even remotely journalistic going on in this scenario. Spouting your opinion on a blog (like this one!) is NOT journalism. Tweeting from the airport about something you saw the TSA doing? NOT journalism. Posting photos of your local riot on Facebook? Yep - NO journalism going on there either.

Journalism consists of much more than having an opinion and a platform. Journalism has a code of ethics and is crafted by people with enough professional pride to proofread their copy before they put their name on it. Most current local newspapers have completely done away with journalism, or relegated it to a couple of pages somewhere lost between the giant drop down banner ads, the local flavor blog posts and the 527 soul-crushing comments on the blurb about some local crime or politics story filed by someone who did not fact check nor proofread before hitting "send".
About that code of ethics, the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism has already put together a collection of links for us: Ethics Codes

You will find that there are lots of guidelines for journalists about secret recordings, verification of facts, use of multiple sources, and most importantly - accountability! Reading the ethics codes, you understand why talk radio hosts identify themselves as "entertainers". But this applies equally to all of us who use blogs and other social media to express our opinions. Social media is wonderful for providing a soap-box for everyone who wishes to hold forth on the streetcorner. But don't confuse an opinionated old crank blogging about the demise of quality journalism with an actual journalist.

And that rumbling sound? Is Edward R Murrow ...

Spinning in his Grave

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