Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Che and Fidel in the Blogosphere

Somewhere along the line, Craig Newmark left the impression that people are going overboard with citizen journalism ("People have gotten too excited about citizen journalism, and they're not addressing the balance well.") and, I think, further gives the impression that there's a whole bunch of citizens just running around like Che and Fidel destabilizing the status quo...or at least that seems to be what's come across in this piece from CityPages ...

Honestly, I'm sure about Craig's real view of "citizen journalists" (he gives a very broad explanation in the interview) but there seems to be some misunderstanding...(and it occurs not just with Craig, lots of people have a misunderstanding of citizen journalism.)

The fact of the matter is that most of the folks who encourage citizen journalism are or have been journalists themselves--like Dan Gillmor and Jeff Jarvis and a whole bunch of others. And probably the most famous citizen journalist, Joshua Micha Marshall (featured in the NYMag piece) is one of those guys who was a journalist before he made his mark as a citizen journalist.

Even non-marquee but well-respected names like Jeff Hess, Roxanne Cooper, and Amy Gahran have writing/journalism backgrounds.

Further, most of us who are more or less on the Citizen side of the phrase "citizen journalism" have mentors who have been in media or journalism. From the folks who blog at, to Baristanet and The Greensboro News-Record, we all have mentors of one sort of another. Even I have mentors.

Besides, people wouldn't be doing it, nor would they have found mentors, if there weren't forces of destiny who thought they had something worth developing and sharing with others.

Heck, it's not like we've banded together and invested in guillotines...or Cuban cigars...Give us a break, Craig!



Anonymous said...

Please help me out and read what I said, okay?



Tish Grier said...


I read what you said, as well as a few other paraphrases of what you said on other blogs (perhaps those blogs need a bit of scrutinizing too)--that really made you look like you weren't all that happy with citizen journalists. It wasn't just my singular impression.

In saying that you try not to define it (your words, not mine) leaves the matter so open that readers and others can correlate that opinion with your other words "professional newsgatherers are irreplaceable" thus giving the impression that you have a negative opinion of c.j. in general. The words end up feeding those who would really like to see an end to any sort of citizen participation in the journalistic landscape.

In your words: "If you've read my blog lately, you'll notice I've been emphasizing recently a balance and merging of professional and citizen journalism. The deal is, there's no substitute for professional-level writing and fact-checking and editing. One of the tenets of the effort I'm involved with is to drive more traffic to professional news sites. People have gotten too excited about citizen journalism, and they're not addressing the balance well."

I don't think the majority of people are as excited as you think they are--or maybe we're referring to a different set of "people". I don't know. The ones who are excited, though, are just trying to do what you yourself have done--make a difference. And there's already been a merging going on for awhile. It's not new.

Tish Grier said...

but seriously, Craig...weren't *you* excited when you started shaking up newspapers?? I think I remember you being a bit excited about in your own low-key way.

All I'm asking is don't be mean to those of us who are just a bit exuberant, too.

Anonymous said...

I'm not being mean, just honestly balanced, that's what I've said.

Nothing implies I'm unhappy with any citizen journalists.


Tish Grier said...

thanks for clarifying...

We'll have to agree to disagree though with the idea that people aren't balanced vis c.j. More like they are overloaded with Information. It's going to take time for the human organism to figure out a way to process all the information that's out there--perhaps more time than it might take for someone to come along with the right tool that will help the situation.

If there ever was the manifestation of a Brave New World, it's inside everyone's little machine.