April 26, 2005

What I (still) believe…

I’m working on an academic version of my field theory blog essay. It’s been a long time since I’ve read the entire current version. I was a bit startled by this part of the conclusion:

At the moment, I believe these three points to be true (i.e. statements that have an understanding-based fit to the world):

1- Journalism is the most important discoursive practice in our culture.
2- As such, it is crucially important that journalists understand the power of their craft and the structure of their profession beyond mere grammatical competence and simplistic notions of “objectivity.”
3- Civic journalism is not a fad; it is the leading edge of a new rhetorical paradigm and, thus, a new noetic field for us all.

Number 1 I still believe. Journalism is the most important discoursive practice in our culture. What I didn’t say when I wrote the original essay (because I wasn’t thinking that far ahead) is that this includes all forms of journalism no matter who practices it and no matter what the venue. So I’m also talking about new professional forms such as stand alone journalism and citizen forms such as blogging and open-source webs. While I’ll continue to make this claim in the new essay, I’ll prefer “central cultural practice.” The reason for this: I prefer to avoid certain academic battles until after I’ve made my point (similar to the point of the original blog essay).

Number 2 still seems solid to me.

Number 3 is no longer appropriate because citizen journalism and stand alone journalism have intruded on the old civic model. At the moment, I would assert that the civic model no longer makes sense in the absence of citizen participation in the production and critique of news as part of the dialog civic journalism privileges. Another way to put this: Citizen journalism will finally make civic journalism possible on more than an experimental basis at a handful of news organizations. So I still believe it is the leading edge of a new rhetorical paradigm (conversation versus lecture) and, thus, a new noetic field for us all.

4 Responses

  1. If you include the new citizen forms, do editors no longer fit in your definition of journalism?

    Is that part of the change in noetic field from lecture (reviewed by an editor) and conversation?

  2. acline 

    S- As much as I would like my (narrow) definition of journalism to hold (re: editorial process), it simply cannot in the face of important change. So I suppose modification is in order. Now, what modifier to use?

  3. If there can be “citizen” journalists, can there also be “citizen” editors? Are the roles/functions still valid but the process different?

    Can the same person be journalist, self-editor and self-publisher AND ex post facto editor of others?

    I’m not sure.

    In your current definition, the editor’s function is performed prior to publishing, is it not? However, it doesn’t end there, with the publishing of that story, does it? It continues as part of a process for the next day’s edition. Corrections are made to past published accounts. Follow-ons with additional information or a different angle. …

    However, instead of the editorial process being conducted behind closed doors … the sausage making of journalism as lecture … is the sausage being made in a more distributed “citizen” manner?

  4. acline 

    S- Good questions all.

    re: “Can the same person be journalist, self-editor and self-publisher AND ex post facto editor of others?”

    It appears the answer can be “yes.” Isn’t this what we’re seeing in the open-source webs?

    re: editor’s function

    Yes. It’s complex as you describe.

    re: sausage

    Everyday the public peers a bit more deeply into the editorial process. It seems to me that demystification will lead to greater participation and influence–especially if news organizations provide the route in.