December 9, 2009

The C-J Word

What is “citizen journalism”? I like Jay Rosen’s definition:

Here’s the problem: This concept freaks out some professional journalists (professional in this case meaning they get a paycheck to do it).

There’s this idea floating around that many people — these citizen journalists — think they can replace professional journalists, i.e. “throw the professionals overboard.” That’s news to me. I think one might be able to say this: There are many people trying to pick up the ball(s) professional (corporate controlled) journalism has dropped.

I sympathize with the notion that “journalism” requires an editorial process. Does that process have to be the same as those who practice the craft with the financial support of a news organization? When we modify the noun “journalist” with “citizen” what are we changing?

I think Rosen’s definition of the c-j word makes that quite clear.

Further, the process is different for everyone now, citizen and professional alike. The internet has made the movement from the rhetoric of lecture to the rhetoric of conversation possible. Journalism used to assert that it was the conversation that a culture has with itself. That was pure bull-roar. You can’t conduct a conversation with the rhetoric of lecture — information always flowing from people who (think they) know to people who (presumably) do not know. The internet — and a new generation of content producers known as the millennials — has changed that.

What we’re seeing here is the last gasp of the rhetoric of lecture.

Comments are closed.