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Journalism 1.5

Now that conventional media is congratulating itself on its openness to the cellphone imagery and twitter reports from Iran in a variety of articles, are these same media outlets going to be open to such amateur reporting from other regions of the world–for example, the current coup in Honduras, the Chinese crackdown on the followers of the Dalai Lama, the repression of the people in Burma, the aftermath of the Israeli incursion into Gaza, or the continuing agony of New Orleans?

Is the argument that professional journalists were thrown out of Iran or imprisoned so there was no choice but to use the work of amateurs? Or is the argument that the work by amateurs, in its volume and complexity, its insider status, is essential to understanding what is going on in situations throughout the world? If the argument is the latter, then it is time to figure out ways to incorporate such work thoughtfully and respectfully into all kinds of media, and to complement it with strong professional work that gets at issues which the amateur work may be less successful at uncovering.

Amateurs then might be very helpful in unfolding the work by the professionals, considering its implications in ways that the journalists might not have considered. And professionals should be there filtering some of the amateur work, or at least prioritizing it and whenever possible checking its reliability so that readers are not consistently overwhelmed with too much to look at and read.

This is neither Journalism 1.0 or 2.0, but what we might want to call Journalism 1.5.

3 Comments

  1. Sean wrote:

    A line does not need to be drawn between (photographic) professionals and (photographic) amateurs, be this in Iran, Honduras, etc, in regard to the production of images.

    That ‘big’ media is more open to varied content produced in one location (Iran) over another (Honduras) is, I think, influenced by various factors, not least of which are (1) general acess to digital technologies by a large group of the population to be able to actually produce content and (2)the perceived political relevance of what is happening: Iran is front page news while Honduras is not - at least in Western circles (UK, USA…). Thus, wider factors are in play, dictated by domestic political concerns. Note, I am not stating here that the goings-on in Honduras are less worthy of exposure, rather that fewer (western) governments care.

    As you mention, one of the main issues is editing and vetting - and who does this editing and vetting.

    Best, Sean.

    Tuesday, June 30, 2009 at 3:45 am | Permalink
  2. fredritchin wrote:

    While I agree with Sean that a line does not need to be drawn between amateurs and professionals–certainly there is a large overlap between the two groups, as I wrote in a previous post–I do think that we need to start asking the question: What distinguishes a professional in journalism, both in the making of imagery and text? What should we expect from a professional that we do not expect from a non-professional?

    Certainly the people at Wikipedia have shown that it is possible to create a highly erudite and often very useful information resource without delegating it solely to the traditional “professionals.” Journalism 1.5, in my opinion, will be an evolution of such a group effort that utilizes all kinds of resources. But while there has to be an openness to a wide variety of perspectives, there still have to be certain guidelines established (which are now beginning to evolve) so that the reader will know what the conventions are in gathering and presenting the journalism of the future. Otherwise it will be very difficult to adequately interpret what one is reading and seeing.

    Tuesday, June 30, 2009 at 8:41 am | Permalink
  3. Giovanni DB wrote:

    I think we lack of a “Wikipaper”. Wikipedia works (even if sometimes not) because of a complex system of control that will tell the reader what he can trust on or not. A wikipaper could do the same but controlled by professional journalists that would verify the news… The verification is for me the biggest problem in the net and the news made by amateurs or by any means by anonymous… who can tell me what is real in twitter? in blogs?etc…? Fake news are easy to forge! an example of “fake news”,look at video 2 in :
    http://www.campaignlive.co.uk/thework/news/914322/best-Droga5/

    Wednesday, July 1, 2009 at 3:19 am | Permalink

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