“Do the Right Thing” do Citizen Journalism

A mini introduction to “How to Create ‘Debates’ ” is found (without offending..) in the opinions differences between two NP contributors on  the theme ‘Is Global Warming’ man-made or a hoax’, (12/16/2007)…(see here)

Global Warming Rio

Global Warming NT

Photos source.                                    ‘Global Warming’

Similar difference in opinions rages on the ‘citizen journalism’ versus conventional journalism debate, on a terrain  more slippery than ever. From David Hazinsky’s article “Unfettered ‘citizen journalism’ too risky” , (12/13/07, ajc.com > Opinion), I quote a few key phrases: “…It ranges from the CNN YouTube debates to political blogs to cellphone video of that sniper who opened fire at an Omaha Mall. These are all examples of so called ‘citizen journalism,’ the hot new extension of the news business where the audience becomes the reporter”…”.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’.”… “Education, skill and standards are really what make people into trusted  professionals. Information without journalistic standards is called gossip.”..”So without any real standards, anyone has a right to declare himself or herself a journalist.”... see the full article.

Two days latter (12/14/07 ajc.com > Opinion)  Leonard Witt published an answer in his article “Citizen journalists: They don’t need to be regulated“.I quote some key phrases: ” He [David Hazinsky]  doesn’t think the formerly passive news media audience members are very trustworthy. He [David Hazinsky] adds:’Journalism schools such as mine at the University of Georgia should add courses to certify citizen journalists in proper ethics and procedure , much as volunteer teachers, paramedics and sheriff’s auxiliaries are trained and certified’. “.. Here, Leonard Witt, wrote: “You can be a great journalist without formal training.” and mentions, I quote… former Washington Post reporter Betty Medsger who surveyed relatively new journalists, those with less than 11 years’ experience. She found that 27 percent had never studied journalism.”… see full article.

I found the original statistic in Betty Medsger’s essay “Getting Journalism Education Out of the Way” ( Zone for Debate, 2002). I quote:
“59 percent of print journalists who won Pulitzer Prizes never studied journalism;
75 percent of broadcast journalists who won DuPont Awards never studied journalism;
58 percent of journalists awarded Nieman Fellowships never studied journalism, and;
51 percent of journalists awarded Knight Fellowships at Stanford University never studied journalism.” …
…  “What would journalism professors think of this?…   Upon hearing the findings, many journalists and journalism educators simply dismissed them, thinking: these people are probably graduates of elite east coast schools who profited from nepotism or other connections to get hired by elite east coast news organizations.That explanation, which I considered myself when I first saw the data, is wrong. The journalists in each group — the award and fellowship winners, as well as the 27 percent of new journalists — were a very diverse group. They were graduates of colleges and universities from throughout the nation: public and private, small and large, a few elite, mostly non-elite. Some were graduates of universities that grant respected journalism degrees. They weren’t employed by elite eastern news organizations, they were employed everywhere, at a wide range of types and sizes among newsrooms throughout the country. The only obvious thing they had in common was the fact that they had not studied journalism.  What did these people know that others do not know? Perhaps a lot. More than half of them majored in either literature or history. The rest majored in a wide sampling of liberal arts and science disciplines.”…
the full article is here.

So, this little piece of statistic will not put an end to the debate on ‘Citizen Journalism’ between David Hazinsky and Leonard Witt,  but it restore a better weighing of its inner components. After all, professional journalist with prestigious prices never studied journalism.


As an historical footnote: journalist without studies in journalism.

Walter Lipman.. I quote “…at age 17, entered Harvard University where he studied under George Santayana, William James, and Graham Wallas. He concentrated on philosophy and languages (he spoke both German and French) and graduated after only three years of study.”..see here.

Bob  Woodward (The Watergate affair) I quote  “enrolled in Yale University with an NROTC scholarship, and studied history and English literature.”….”He applied to several law schools, but also applied for a job as a reporter for The Washington Post. Harry Rosenfeld, the paper’s metropolitan editor, hired him on a two-week trial basis, a tryout that failed because of his complete lack of experience as a journalist. Still interested in becoming a reporter, he got a job with the Montgomery Sentinel. A year after his on-the-job training at the Sentinel, he left that paper and joined The Washington Post in August 1971.” see here.

And finally, from my own trade as a visual artist, the painter Johannes Vermeer “Essentially self-taught as a painter, readily absorbed the lessons of his predecessors and peers. In his town of Delft, Vermeer’s known to have shared artistic ideas with painter Pieter de Hooch during the 1650s.”….see here.

Girl with a Pearl Earring

Photo source.

I published this story on NowPublic and add here the comments by  NowPublic editors and contributing members.

Is Citizen Journalism a Gigantic Blog?

 The new  journalism wave of citizen, crowds, bloggers etc, disturbs the conventional institutional journalism to a point that most well know newspapers introduce in their daily menu ‘bloggers’ acting with a more personal touch, perhaps not so journalistic. 
 Here are a few exemples of such sites,


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Blog runner,NYT.

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Jerusalem Post

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Washigton Post

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  On the other hand there is the original ‘citizen journalism’ where non-trained people, like myself, with no experience whatever make news. Is it possible? Well as the man on the spot, where newsworthy events occurs, if he know how to written and he has an Internet connection and is a member of a participatory site he can immediately upload his news and be published on the fly. Is it lesser news because his professional editors let him upload whatever interest him, doing only some kind of ethical filtering. Or is creditability  possible, if and only if  a Real Pro Journalist and a Real Newspaper does the publishing. I would dare to say that this not the case. 

For look at the Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential race where professional reporters ‘record’ the news. Here is an example from the November 30, 2007 found on Watchblog . 


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Washington Post Reports the News? see here.
I quote..”Everybody tells me that the Washington Post is a great newspaper. It has some of the best reporters. It reports all the important news. But what do they call news? And how do they report it? Is rumor news? Is it proper to report a known falsehood as news?”…”In an article titled ” Foes Use Obama’s Muslim Ties to Fuel Rumors about Him” Peny Bacon “reported” :Despite his denials, rumors and e-mails circulating on the Internet continue to allege that Obama (D-Ill.) is a Muslim, a “Muslim plant” in a conspiracy against America, and that, if elected president, he would take the oath of office using a Koran, rather than a Bible, as did Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), the only Muslim in Congress, when he was sworn in earlier this year.  Since when are “rumors and emails circulating on the Internet” news? I was under the impression that reporters report facts.”….(The original Washington Post  article is  here.) 

 In one of the 19 accompanign comments I found this..”The news media reports news. News may correlate with truth, but it is not truth. Those of us more to the right of you have long understood this. You should not let this minor and relatively indirect attack on Obama bother you. We get it all the time in the media.”…see here. So where are the creditability the facts and the truth?

  In opposition to the above intrigues and complaints, I, the ‘inexperienced citizen journalist’ bear no  burden of  global, national or local interests that are constraining the big newspapers. My view is perhaps more direct naive and personal.  If I wants to do real work with a clear voice I should  be careful not to fall into pseudo-journalism as described here,  I quote..”Letter-to-the-Editor are as much journalism as a man’s video of his kid’s wedding is cinema. Or as much as a woman putting a Band-Aid (or ‘plaster’ the British would say) onto her kid’s bruised knee is practicing medicine. Or as much as a guy appearing in traffic court to dispute a parking ticket is practicing law. It’s too much of a rhetoric stretch.”…see here.

  But I already know that the big newspapers blogs sites are not far away. Look at the ‘Ten Commandment’ of Blogrunner (the blog site of the New York Times), I quote..  
 ..”Dig into the web and expose which stories are developing now. Fully integrate blogs and media Highlight the connections between the various agents –bloggers or media- that report or relay or annotate these stories”.. ..”Identify these agents. Use the connections between distributed news fragments to provide context and perspective. Highlight individual voices and expertise. Connect these voices”.. ..”Aggregate expert voices horizontally across categories. Provide perspective. Juxtapose news stories with views about these stories. Saturation coverage: Provide in a single view a snapshot of all major players –bloggers, media organizations– in this conversation – include all resources that are cited.”..
Provide an archive of past moments in the blogosphere, connect current stories to older stories
Stir; shake; serve.”..
see more here.

  So the New York Times has aproved  the above objectives by integrating ‘blogs and news’, and that is what I try to do. The technology is here and the really interested people will stay on the track.

Annotated NYT

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Published on NowPublic.