Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Never Send a Boy to Do a Grown-Up's Job

At the rate it's going, the BBC is never going to understand citizen journalism..."citizen journalist" Frankie Roberto spent a week at the Beeb in an effort to find out more about "what separates professional reporters from amateur enthusiasts such as himself."

But Frankie's not your average citizen: he's a web developer who works for WikiNews. I wonder what he's doing at the Beeb: he could be looking to turn himself into a Beeb journalist more than exploring citizen journalism....and if that's the case, that's fine. Just be a bit more honest about it.

I wonder why Frankie didn't check out what independent citizens are doing in England for citizen journalism...or do they not have efforts such as iBrattleboro or H2OTown or Muncie Free Press or Chi-Town Daily News

Overall I suspect Frankie's motives in this, and the Beeb's motives. Actually, the whole thing looks like a publicity stunt on the part of the Beeb. here's Frankie's blog. Note that there is no blogroll, even if there is an archives, and most of his reporting is basic blogging about this, that or the other in his life. So, is Frankie then a "citizen journalist" in the broadest sense of the term? Then pretty much anyone who blogs is a "citizen journalist"....which dilutes the efforts of those interestsed in serving their community because their local media has failed...

And where did the Beeb find him? Thru WikiNews? Or was he just an enterprising go-getter who contacted the Beeb on his own? I understand that motive. But be honest about it.

Frankie says that by going to the Beeb he wanted to discover more about "citizen journalism"...which begs the question: Should the MSM be defining and guiding citizen journalism efforts? I don't think it's MSM's place to be steering citizen journalism directly thru its channels. Perhaps it's the place of journalists who are disaffected, who know the process and may have been professional--but not the established media.

With their ever-eroding business models, and their shrinking profit margins, can MSM be trusted to do the right thing by citizens? I'm not so sure any more...

I have to hand it to the Beeb though. It's transparent here --making it quite clear that it wants to be the "citizen journalism" portal for England. But doesn't that just, ultimately, translate out to paying people to do the jobs of reporters?? Perhaps what the Beeb, and lots of media outlets need, are citizen journalism efforts that aren't part of the MSM...and maybe, more than ever, the MSM needs Watchdogs rather than lapdogs.

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