Tuesday, March 31, 2009

"The rise of citizen journalism has placed unprecedented responsibility on the reader"

The ubiquity of citizen journalists -- "non-professionals who use a digital camera and a sharing spirit to observe events and record them on personal blogs, or on Twitter, iReport, CitizenSide and other such online forums" -- demands readers to be more discerning than ever before.

Jonathan Petersen, a former religion editor with UPI, writes:
For more than a century, journalism operated the same way: a news event occurred, an “official” reporter wrote about it, an editor reshaped it, a headline writer contributed to it, a designer/producer fit the story into a prefabricated and limiting format, and it was all distributed to consumers at a predetermined time for consumption the way the “professionals” proscribed. Today, in only 10 years, that model has been ripped apart: anyone can now manufacture and globally distribute news and we can select what news we want to read however and whenever we want to read it. This is good if you believe in freedom of speech. But it’s not so good if you demand consistently high editorial standards and desire quality reporting. Since the editorial filter is non-existent in citizen journalism, every reader must exercise discernment to know what to accept as fact and what to jettison as fiction.

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