July 18, 2008

More on "What is Citizen Journalism?"

Let’s take another look at Jay Rosen’s pithy definition of citizen journalism:

“When the people formerly known as the audience employ the press tools they have in their possession to inform one another, that’s citizen journalism.”

Does “journalism” indicate the same thing for pro and amateur? It should, IMO. That doesn’t mean the pro and amateur will/can/should produce exactly the same product (or have exactly the same audience). Let’s move ahead (briefly) with those assumptions. This, then, would be a credible definition of “professional journalism”:

“When people paid a salary employ press tools to inform one another, that’s professional journalism.”

Again, what are these tools? How are they acquired? Are we merely talking technology? What is the relationship between the tools and the product such that the employ of them leads to something called journalism? Do differences exist in the the use of these tools based on how the journalist is situated? i.e. the pro working within a commercial institution and the amateur working (in/for/with) _____ (how/where/with whom do amateurs work?).

To be continued…

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8 Responses

  1. What if you do both?

    A person I use to work with in the newsroom issued a rhetorical diatribe on the second page of the newspaper.

    While reprinting and critiquing a blog post he belittled both the importance of a mere “blogger” and issued a few attacks in addition to intentionally refrained from citing the “blogger” in question.

    Ironically, I follow the body he writes about more than he does.

    When the newspaper he works for offered a position to me this week; he threatened to quit.

    I posted his piece here..

    Perhaps, you could provide an expert opinion and appropriate response.

  2. Tim 

    I continue to disagree with “professional” defined as paid. I also think it sets up bad law.

    I think professional journalism should be the commodification of thought and speech by the public.

  3. acline 

    Tim… I’m just going by the dictionary. Every one I own tells me this: “following an occupation as a means of livelihood or for gain.” I have said here before, in discussion with you, that this is how I mean it in regard to journalism and that it is a legitimate use of the word. I agree that bad law can result when, for example, the First Amendment is (falsely) understood to protect the “profession” of journalism or the commercial institution of journalism.

  4. Tim 

    Yeah, you’ve definitely been stubborn about getting the definition right.


  5. Tim 

    Are journalists willing to adhere to a code of ethics and legal standards that must followed or be de-licensed, disbarred, arrested, etc.?

    Or, if professional journalism is failing its public service calling, can it be de-certified? Of course that could be heresy, given journalism is a holy profession.

    I’m convinced in the changed noetic field, the story to tell is not one of “professional” journalism, but rather one of public craftsmanship.

  6. acline 

    Tim… Seeing as how I agree with much of what you’re saying, your insistence that I refrain from using an entirely legitimate definition of “professional” is absurd.

  7. Tim 

    Absurd it may be, but as you and I have written before, professional journalism can be defined in a way that has nothing to do with how much you are paid or by whom you are employed. Many media personalities meet your definition of professional journalist without performing journalism.

  8. acline 

    Tim… I don’t think I’ve ever made any claims about how much someone is paid or for whom they work. I use the term “professional journalist” merely to indicate one who is paid to produce journalism and “professional journalism” to indicate journalism that is produced for pay. When I mean to indicate quality, I use the term “newspaper journalism” (re: Buzz Merritt). If I have at anytime failed to stick with these as so defined, then I was in error.

    BTW, I do want to address the de-certification point. I’ve never done so except to say that the practice it identified is silly. But, I’m not at all comfortable with the term (Rosen’s, I think) because the press has never been, and should never be, officially certified by anyone to do anything.

    This will have to wait until I return from Helsinki 🙂