“Citizen journalism” means citizens can be journalists and reach a potential audience without the intermediary of owning their own printing press or television tower.
But what’s missing is credibility and, in many cases, trust. The old infrastructure limitations to being a well-read or well-viewed journalist also had an implicit screening effect: If you were hired and worked your way up to a larger paper or TV station, you were effectively trained in (or at least had a fighting chance of) being good at journalism by bosses and colleagues who acted as mentors. Effectively, you were “certified” by the process.
Today, blogs and tweets aren’t consistently trustworthy. And there is no comparable screening process to fall back upon.
A high Google page rank doesn’t mean it’s accurate, only popular.
[P]erhaps it’s time for the Radio-Television News Directors Association, Society of Professional Journalists/Sigma Delta Chi, and other professional journalism associations to suck it up and join together to agree on a core set of standards for a professional journalist certification, duration before re-certification, and grounds for revocation. All have their guidelines and codes of ethics. If they won’t work together, turn the project over to an international standards body to do the heavy lifting.
Understand the benefits won’t accrue to those lucky reporters still drawing a paycheck from an established news organization or those who are household names (though some, who mix facts and opinion without identifying which is which, surely could benefit).