Covering the new kids

The LA Times gives slightly snarky coverage to the phenom of amateur journalism:

Across the country “citizen newspapers” are springing up, full of promise, energy and atrocious spelling errors. They’re largely written by unpaid, untrained and unedited citizen reporters, who say they “commit acts of journalism” more for kicks than out of a sense of civic calling.

But I loved the quotes from Prof. Phil Meyer, author of The Vanishing Newspaper:

“What you’re seeing is a radical new way of doing journalism. We’re back to the time of the lonely pamphleteer or the tramp printers in the Europe. . . .

“What you’re seeing right now isn’t the end product; it’s in development. We old-timers look at it and say, ‘This is terrible. This isn’t journalism.’ But, in fact, this is something that has value and needs to be developed. . . .

“I close every semester by saying, ‘I’ve just taught you journalism as it was practiced in my day. The journalism in your day is going to be different. It’s up to you to invent it, please don’t mess it up.’ “

  • The LATimes doesn’t hate bloggers as much as the WSJ. That ink-lump has about declared all out war. I do love the sound of indignant, arrogant, patronizing suits ‘a lipflappin’ with my morning coffee. Gets me laughing for the day if nothing else.

  • Many of the blogs I read have a clear subject focus, are well-written and insightful. They may not convey the full story, but provide sufficient content to enrich my understanding. What is amateurish about that?

  • Amateur is a good word, embraced by many bloggers, meaning passionate more than mercenary.

  • Hi Jeff,

    The same debate is going on in the UK with many dead tree journalists making fun of the bloggers. As a former journalist I am rather puzzled by this as I never considered journalism a profession – but rather a trade or a knack.

    A nice counterpoint to the whole anti-citizen journalist view is the following news by the BBC:

    The BBC has launched a citizen journalism project to explore new multi-media story telling ideas using mobile phones and GPS.

    BBC Innovation is collaborating with the University of Brighton, Nokia and mobile and web engagement specialist Ymogen for the Geo-stories project to investigate how video, stills and text combined with location and time information can create new narrative formats.

  • I thought MSM journalists thought bloggers were “cool?” That statement, regarding bloggers’ inherent hip factor, I forget by whom, must have been yet more MSM patronizing babble into their void.

  • Yawn…the LA Times doesn’t think bloggers are journalists. What else is new? Maybe next they’ll try some unmediated wiki-torials!

  • Delia

    Jeff,

    That’s certainly what the Latin root says but I’m wondering how many people *really* look at it that way… (“meaning passionate more than mercenary”), especially when used together with “professional,” as in “professional and amateur journalists.”

    Delia

    P.S. Now, if the term was *mercenary* and amateur journalists… yeah!

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  • Anna Haynes

    re “amateur” – methinks we oughta reclaim the term, because it _does_ denote what cit-j is about.
    But perhaps pronounce it differently (like ‘connoisseur’), to evade the accumulated negative connotational baggage?

  • Nic White

    That’s because blogging is not journalism and shouldn’t pretend to be. It doesn’t have to be anyway, it functions best as commentary, side by side with professional journalism. This so called war between “old” and “new” media is just hokey.

  • Grayson, the WSJ is a major perpetrator of the philosophy that rich people should be above reportage. See yesterday’s ‘go shopping’ injunction by w – this is their credo. If you get cheaper shoes and clothes, ignore the weakening dollar, the doubling costs of energy, the loss of good paying jobs in this country. Your buying power is making you rich – that’s really the meme. See further info at http://www.cabdrollery.blogspot.com, it’s what the WSJ readership is all about.

  • john

    Kids,
    Most of the KIDS are baby boomers/ older people still trying to make a contribution, as the established media will not publish their concerns and opinions,

  • The Gutnenberg (from the WSJ article) reference always makes me laugh. It seems that blogs are more like Brownie cameras. They transformed a complex technical process into a push button solution. Culturally the Brownie camera changed the way that we saw things and allowed for sharing amongst our circle of family and friends. This changed the dyamics of picture taking – masterpieces could be created without masters.

    Blog cultue is somewhat more hyper in its connectivity so mountains out of molehills come faster and with more frequency. Not all Blogs are equal in the same way that High School, Community Theater and a Broadway productions can work the same materials to different ends.

    Although much of the criticism of MSM is well deserved, Blog culture probably could do wirth some self reflection as well. Though Mr Rago may not be the best at articulating some of the problems with the format it doesn’t mean that they aren’t there and should be examined in less confrontaional terms.

  • Christian

    Both supposed sides of this stupid debate frustrate me so much I could cry. Smug “bloggers” are now all wrapped up in their medium just as much as neolithic look-down-the-nose “journalists” are said to be. The hostility directed at “Old Media” as a lumpen apparatus, which bogglingly conflates writers with owner-types, is just getting ridiculous.

  • Hey there,

    I’m Ariel, the founder of BrooWaha. I agree that the article was quite harsh and could have noted some qualities of citizen journalism instead of citing all its weaknesses. Not to mention that some of these weaknesses are share between traditional journalism and citizen journalism.

    I do think however that we are only witnessing the beginning of a transition between a blogging era and a “citizen journalism” one. There is still work to do on our end and we need to manage all this generated content in a coherent way. But I think it’s gonna be big, really big, and that it will come much sooner that the LA Times think.

    Ariel
    http://losangeles.broowaha.com