Citizen Journalism Supposedly Works - So What?

Posted on January 4, 2008
Filed Under OMG! Old Media is Dying! |

I enjoy reading posts by Mark ‘Rizzn’ Hopkins over at Mashable even if I don’t often agree with his arguments. I much prefer using Duncan Riley’s posts as inspiration for scathing responses, but tonight I had to address Mark’s “Huckabama Wins, a Few Observations” post. In it, he declares:

Friends, bloggers, countrymen - lend me your ears. Citizen journalism is here and it works. The MSM [mainstream media] is officially on notice.

Why does citizen journalism work? According to Mark, primarily because was able to predict a big win for Obama before the mainstream media and because Mark was “without even turning on any cable news networks…able to get minute by minute coverage of the caucus results from actual primary sources with a high degree of accuracy and interesting analysis.”

I have some breaking news of my own: this is not compelling. Unless you’re a political junkie who can’t wait to see which candidates have taken the lead in the battle for the worst job in the world, is there really any point in staying glued to your computer screen so you can get an early indication of who is going to win the Iowa caucuses? Is there really any point to the exercise of trying to stay up-to-speed on an event without tuning in to mainstream media coverage?

I’m not a huge fan of the American news media. As far as I’m concerned, a good portion of it has sadly been castrated and dumbed down. But on the whole, it usually does a more-than-adequate job of providing an accurate who, what, where, when, why and how for major events.

For the vast majority of average Americans, that’s good enough. Following the efforts of Twitter users to more quickly predict the outcome of the Iowa caucuses is undesirable; there’s no perceived problem with tuning into CNN for the news. And that’s why far more people learned the results of the Iowa caucuses via a mainstream news outlet (or a property that got its information from a mainstream news outlet) than they did from Tweets.

I’ve discussed citizen journalism before and my thoughts on the subject really haven’t changed that much. There are areas where citizen journalism can assist and augment professional journalism. Unfortunately, as with in the political realm, it seems that far too few citizen journalists are interested in doing something substantive. Proponents like Mark ‘Rizzn’ Hopkins would rather focus on how a handful of citizen journalists can make an accurate prediction faster and how it’s now possible to stay informed even though you’re boycotting cable television. This doesn’t do justice to the ways that citizen journalism could potentially contribute more effectively to news coverage.

In the final analysis, the obvious question in all of this is: so what? Who really cares except people who have an ideological hatred for the evil “mainstream media”? I think the answer is, for the most part, nobody.

In many ways, many proponents of citizen journalism remind me of the guy in the office with an inferiority complex. He seems to think that the world is against him and that all of his co-workers question his abilities. So when he accomplishes something, he makes it a point to put the rest of the office on notice of this fact, not recognizing, of course, that he’s the only guy in the office who actually gives a damn.

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One Response to “Citizen Journalism Supposedly Works - So What?”

  1. Data Portability is Not a Right : The Drama 2.0 Show on January 4th, 2008 1:12 pm

    […] Yes, while Kenya is burning, the blogosphere has been ablaze with talk about Scoble. Perhaps Mark needs to re-evaluate just how well citizen journalism works. The mainstream blogosphere’s coverage of Scoble at […]

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