Here's What's in My Dirty Martini

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Citizen Journalists

I’m not a fan of the ‘mainstream media’. I don’t trust them to report the news accurately or fairly. I believe they have an agenda. And I wish they would just be honest and say what they really believe in and not try to hide it behind the façade of trying to be impartial.

Bloggers, on the other hand, are usually transparent as to their real beliefs. I don’t have to agree with them but at least I find them honest about what they believe.

But we’re not real journalists and we expose the journalist industry to fraud and abuse. We’re dangerous!

That’s what David Hazinski, an Associate Professor at the University of Georgia's Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, said in a recent piece in the Atlanta Journal and Constitution. I wonder what his students think of his comments. I’m sure that a lot of them are bloggers and users of You Tube and other ‘dangerous’ forms of non-journalistic media.

Although a graduate of that fine institution, I am not a journalist. Nor do I wish to be one. It’s more fun being dangerous and fraudulent! Maybe that’s what Hazinski doesn’t like. And because bloggers are not part of the mainstream media we should be regulated.

After all, bloggers can write opinions and our readers know that they are, in large part, opinions. Too often, the mainstream media write their opinions and try to pass them off as facts and unbiased journalism.

Hazinski writes, “Education, skill and standards are really what make people into trusted professionals. Information without journalistic standards is called gossip.”

Perhaps he hasn’t seen that we don’t trust journalists. CNN, once the go-to station for 24 hour news, has dropped from 42% to 28% in its trust ranking among viewers. That drop occurred in a 6 year period from 1998 to 2004. I looked at several different polls and studies by Pew and others that also show that trust in our mainstream media is sinking lower and lower.

I predict that one day Congress will have approval ratings higher than that of journalists.

But Hazinski offers a solution…regulate us. He thinks citizen journalists offer much but that our work should be verified to prevent having fake stories surface (you mean, like, Dan Rather and his fraudulent documents about George Bush’s National Guard service?). I know, I know. Fact checking takes time. But isn’t that their job?

Of his suggestions on how to regulate us are:

- “[Citizen Media] should clarify and reinforce their own standards and work through trade organizations to enforce national standards so they have real meaning.”

So I am “abusive and fraudulent” and now I have no “real meaning”. The difference here is that I don’t pretend to be something I’m not. I’m not a journalist. I’m a guy that lives at the end of a cul de sac and writes opinions on things I see.


- “Journalism schools such as mine at the University of Georgia should create mini-courses to certify citizen journalists in proper ethics and procedures, much as volunteer teachers, paramedics and sheriff's auxiliaries are trained and certified.”

Journalists are taught ethics and such too. I don’t want to lump all journalists in the category of those I don’t trust but I don’t find many of them truly honest. Outlets like CNN should just say that they are a liberal leaning organization. Then, viewers will truly know what they are getting when they watch. I see FOX News as more balanced but they’re leaning is to the right and they should admit it.

But remember earlier that Hazinski said “…standards are really what make people into trusted professionals” … then he hits the nail on the head with this one:

“Journalists generally don't like any kind of standards or regulation. Many argue that standards could infringe on freedom of the press and journalism shouldn't be regulated. But we have already seen the line between news and entertainment blur enough to destroy significant credibility.”

While he knows that his own profession doesn’t want to be regulated, he feels that, since we are not professionals, the citizen journalists need to be. Maybe he doesn’t like the fact that the citizen journalists often shine the light on the mainstream media’s errors.

“Continuing to do nothing as information flow changes will further erode [credibility]. Journalism organizations who choose to do nothing may soon find the line between professional and citizen journalism gone as well as the trust of their audiences.”

I have news for you David, if you look at the latest approval numbers for the mainstream media you’ll find that we don’t trust journalists. But don’t worry, our approval rating of this Congress is lower – for now!

But typical of liberals, they want more control. So I have another suggestion for you David – move to Iran. The way a lot of the mainstream media cozy up to the enemies of America perhaps you’ll like the solution Ahma-genocide uses takes care of his citizen journalists – shut down the internet cafes. Regulation at its finest!

Yes, citizen journalists serve a purpose as long as we don’t challenge the views of the mainstream media and we support their current action line.

I don’t think most people confuse blogs with real news outlets. But then I don’t confuse real news with reality in most cases, either.


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