BlogHer Live: Citizen Journalism

Posted in Events, Professional Blogging

Session: Birds of a feather meet-ups

What about ethics? Although we can clearly understand the need for perspective and for other news, ethics issues includes things such as “when do you draw the line.” Do you have a filter on what you do or say around bloggers? Are cameraphones etc intrusive upon private space? Many people do not pay heed to when to take pictures with new technologies, for example. The technology breaks the barrier to an ability to be immediate, but it also glosses over the need to ask permission. Can I post this? Can I take your picture? Have you been asked these questions lately?

Many people writing online or taking pictures and posting online would never consider themselves journalists. It simply extends what they would normally write offline or talk about and posting it online. However, with neither training or awareness, we tend not to apply ethics often associated with journalism. What are the ethics anyway? Who explains it?

Does the term citizen journalist imply a whole class above blogging and below journalism? I would tend to agree – that many are uncomfortable with the term. Perhaps because it accounts for some need for accountability not just in content but with ethics. However, if you moderate the term to blogger or forum writer, you also take away the pressure to be accountable. So, no matter what we term it, there appear to be issues – issues in definition but also in self-control. It just so happens now that the self has more power to extend into the public in a long lasting and searchable way. Some of this is my own rambling based on the ideas I see. And, being something I have not explored fully, I will need to come back to this later. But, before I jump out, what do you think of ethics? Of self-control? Of determining what we can blog or photoblog and when? And how to enforce it?

Journalists are not licensed in the US. So, technically, anyone can do it. Professional ethics are a self-bind.

What power comes from binding “citizen” and “journalist” – is the term citizen the opposite of professional? Amateur may be more appropriate. I would also suggest that citizen implies a political stance, since we connect it with democracy (both in the participatory sense, but also in the sense that it connects with with Politics in the “political” sense, not the general one).

The debate is polarized and the terms we use put things at two ends of the spectrum, both with negative connotations. However, no matter what you call it, how do you trust the validity of what is reported vs. the opinion. Things are not stamped editorial, per se, in the blogging world.

It is easier to be upfront about bias in the blogosphere – we can even add value by being upfront about where we come from and why we think what we do. Plus, there are links and whatnot. We do offer more transparency (hey, I know this guy and blah blah) online but mainstream media may not do this and corrections are hardly visible.

Mainstream media sometimes forget that all people are citizens and all are entitled to a voice.

Advocacy journalism as different from citizen journalism? Again, back to the word citizen and its political connotation.

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