At work we have been talking about ways to streamline our processes in an effort to add immediacy to our products. What good is news, if the content is a week old? A day old? Now...my boss and I have had some rather good debate on the issue. (Suck up time!) I like him! He's able to hear my opinion for what it is, and not attack the the person (usually me) delivering it when he disagrees. I also like the fact that this dude is SMART! I can't blow smoke in any direction without him calling my bluff. SO...I've done my research to support my point of view...(Back to topic)
My boss suggested we don't need to worry about quality so much because our society has accepted a lack in quality in favor of immediate reports. He's right! In "The Customer Is Always Right," Harlan Neugeboren says:
During the past year, we have seen many changes in the way that viewers use and consume news. Viewers know that they can search Google Video, YouTube and MySpace and find news content that they want. The key words are "what they want." Many viewers will search and find any type of news content--it does not necessarily have to be from traditional sources. Viewers are also willing to trade content for quality and don't know or care that it was shot on a Sony XDCAM or Panasonic P2, for example.
There are two problems with this...especially for military journalists.
1) According to Neugeboren, To compete with these other sources, broadcasters need to be in the content business and to provide viewers with as rich an experience as possible. We're not in the content business, some would argue, we're not in the news business. We're in the business of changing hearts and minds, by telling the Air Force story. (Side note...we're not doing this so well, and I feel we're trying to grasp at straws and implement change for the sake of change...and for some civilians to keep their kooshie jobs.)
2) When I write a story, it goes through a very lengthy qc process...hence the reason for the topic to begin with...how to streamline. Bottom line, like it or not, when my product does hit the web, TV, or radio...it better be accurate. Not the case in Citizen Journalism...There is no QC process. Sometimes this is great. Like when the first photos of the tsunamis emerged and a global outcry for help was answered. However, sometimes this happens:
Adnan Hajj took this picture. At first glance, it looks harmless. Media giants the world over started running the picture as proof of what was going on in Beirut. Hajj is a free-lance photojournalist. He has submitted some great photos...Not anymore! You see unlike me, Hajj has no QC process. He, like any citizen journalist simply submits, and we the people...ACCEPT! The above picture was "photoshoped!" It is not an accurate representation of what really was happening in Beirut. Here is the original picture:
Japanese around the world were outraged that Hajj could be so insensitive!
Citizen Journalism is not new! According to Dan Gillmor's "We the Media,"(another kiss-up opportunity for my boss who is a huge history buff)
The roots of citizen journalism can be traced to the founding of the United States in the 18th century, when pamphleteers such as Thomas Paine and the anonymous authors of the Federalist Papers gained prominence by printing their own publications. Further advances such as the postal system — and its discount rates for newspapers — along with the telegraph and telephone helped people distribute news more widely.
What is new...is the internet! Well relatively new...According to Frank Beacham's article "Corporations Co-opt Citizen Journalism,"
Advertising forecasters predict double-digit growth for online media outlets in the new year. Traditional media, including television and newspapers, are slated for flat growth, at best, during 2007.
THAT GOTS ME SCARED! Who will I turn to for help? How can I keep my job? Contacts?
Probably not! Tracy Johnson in "Morning Radio," claims that anyone can be a radio DJ, (or broadcaster for the context of this post) but to be really good, you have to always strive to be the best...that is what will seperate you from everyone else.
This will also be true in Citizen Journalism v. Professional Journalism. Dan Gillmor recently predicted in an online blog that:
...professional photographers and videographers will soon see their ranks dwindle as the "the ability to make a living at it will crumble soon." He said. "They can't possibly compete in the mediasphere of the future. We're entering a world of ubiquitous media creation and access. When the tools of creation and access are so profoundly democratized, and when updated business models connect the best creators with potential customers, many if not most of the pros will fight a losing battle to save their careers." The good news is according to Gilmore...
there will always be in demand by a group of discriminating consumers who will pay for their services.
Here are some great links on Citizen Journalism:
Corporations Co-opt Citizen Journalism
Trust in the Age of Citizen Journalism
Your Guide to Citizen Journalism
The Customer Is Always Right
I leave you with a quote from Dallas Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban...of all people.
"Is there any more lame a comment than "You just don't get it". Its a simple, dismissive phrase that says more about the person saying it than the person/organization its directed to. Its a way of saying "You don't agree with me, but I don't have anything of consequence to say. "You just don't get it" stops any discussion where I might be asked to say something worthwhile dead in its tracks..
I have a simple question. Who does get it?"
I know I'm not smart enough to have the answers. Maybe some alternatives, which I will report with exactness, but not the answers. I only hope I can learn and master my craft so I can have a job. PS...Although I don't completely support Citizen Journalism...I am in fact...a Citizen Journalist...AHHHHHHH!