In her Everyday Ethics column, Kelly McBride at Poynter online would like us to consider the term "citizen journalist" and its uses. The problem is that McBride's post is, basically, preaching to the choir (journalists)--and the choir is responding. Has anyone ever considered that reasonable and fair debate/discussion of the term "citizen journalism" should include the citizens and journalists who claim the term as much as the journalists who dislike them?
Otherwise, it's all the sound of one hand clapping--a pointless, one-sided rant.
Now, I know that I'm capable of random acts of citizen journalism, and I even know some folks whose work can be considered good "citizen journalism." None of us take The Term lightly, and often wonder if we should use it or find some better term. But we're certainly not a bunch of Gomer Pyles with no clue on how to put a coherent thesis statement together, or can't quite figure out "who, what when, where and why," or have the brains to know the difference between a piece of p.r. and an article--as the strain of pure snobbery in many of the comments on McBride's blog appear to assert.
Most of us who tackle The Term have a passion for writing, and, yes, might even have degrees in subjects like English or political science or any other field of study that requires a lot of writing in order to complete the course requirements.
Yet there are also some journalists who blog, who either no longer work in or work on a limited basis in journalism proper and refer to themselves and their new endeavors as "citizen journalism." Where does all this debate put them? And why are their voices also absent in debates like the one on McBride's blog?
So, are the former journalists-now-citizens wrong to use the term? Are folks like me who just like to write, and write well, wrong for using the term?
Or is this all just a lot of splitting hairs because some folks who spent a lot of money on a professional school don't like being challenged one single solitary bit, even when the challenges come from within their own ranks?
Tom Simpson at Webfeed Central has this to say about the McBride post: "They (journalists) really want in on the action, but the way that they’re trying to do it is parallel with the way the RIAA is alienating its customer base, in my opinion. Disagreeing about the term used has very little effect in denying the fact that it’s happening. If you want to “toss out” the term “Citizen Journalism”, go right ahead! User generated content is becoming more and more relevant, while spoon-fed content from newspapers, radio, and television are increasingly just becoming “talking points” for the larger conversation."
Until an open debate of the term "citizen journalism" can be established between all parties that have a vested interest in The Term's use, pieces like McBride's end up as pontificating by the Powers That Be--and that, in itself, is neither fair, honest, nor ethical.
note: I am aware that the c.j. term gets discussed at press and blogging conferences. yet many people who do c.j. don't have access to these conferences because they are often far too costly for the average person to attend.
Journalism citizen journalism, media Blogging Blog Blogs Weblogs