'Citizen Journalism' Fad is Not Journalism
Leonard Pitts Jr
I do not believe in "citizen journalism."
Yes, I know that's heresy. Yes, I know the old model has changed: the monologue is now a dialogue. Yes, I know ordinary people with cell phone cameras now "report" newsworthy events and bloggers are indispensable to the national dialogue.
Yet I remain convinced that, with exceptions, citizen journalism is to journalism as pornography is to a
So I've had it up to here with people calling
Last year, you may recall, O'Keefe was lauded by political conservatives for "investigative journalism" that helped bring down ACORN, the financially troubled group whose sinister works included advocating for poor and middle-income people. O'Keefe, in a hidden camera sting, posed as a pimp and filmed some of the organization's employees advising him on how to facilitate his supposed illicit business. It made him the toast of the blogosphere and earned him the admiration of
The resolution, which failed, praised O'Keefe and his conspirator,
A year later, the "young journalist's" star is, putting it mildly, fading.
Earlier this year, prosecutors declined to prosecute ACORN employees amid reports that the videos were selectively and misleadingly edited. Meanwhile, O'Keefe and three others were arrested for trying to tamper with telephones in the office of
THIS is journalism? No.
Journalism is hours on the phone nailing down the facts or pleading for the interview.
Journalism is obsessing over nit-picky questions of fairness and context.
Journalism is trying to get the story and get it right.
"Citizen journalism," we are told, is supposed to democratize all that, the tools of new technology making each of us a journalist unto him or herself. It is a mark of the low regard in which journalism is held that that load of bull pucky ever passed as wisdom. If some guy had a wrench, would that make him a citizen mechanic? If some woman flashed a toy badge, would you call her a citizen police officer? Would you trust your health to a citizen doctor just because he produced a syringe?
Of course not. But every Tom, Dick and Harriet with a blog is a "citizen journalist."
Worse, they are spreading like the common cold. Ask
After all, it used to be that you couldn't enjoy freedom of the press unless you could afford to own a press. The Internet has opened the public square to more voices, and you can't complain about that.
But I don't believe in citizen journalism because journalism -- like any profession worthy of the name -- has standards and ethics, and if you don't sign on to those, I can no more trust you than I can a doctor who refused the Hippocratic oath or a lawyer who failed the bar exam.
You cannot be a journalist -- citizen or otherwise -- if credibility matters less to you than ideology. So please, let's find something else to call
If you want, I have a few ideas.
Available at Amazon.com:
Read the latest political news.
- Eliminating Poverty: Lesson From Childhood
- Wall Street Had a Meltdown, and All We Got (Besides the Bill) Was an Interminable Argument
- Changing Our Tune to Natural Gas
- Supreme Court's Citizens United Decision Will Warp Policymaking
- Citizens United Decision: Money at Issue Funds Speech Not Candidates
- Education and Wealth: Strongest Predictors of a Long Life
- 'Citizen Journalism' Fad is Not Journalism
- Life's Little Lows Big Part of Going to High School
- Happiness is a Matter of Perspective
- Binge Drinking Numbers Rising
- The Republicans' Bizarre Attacks on Elites
- Joe Klein and Diane Sawyer Tour the Real Reality
- Troubled Times: When Mark Zuckerberg's Generosity Is Not Good Enough
- Why on Earth Does America Want a Stronger Chinese Currency?
- A Nation of Peasants?
- Public Sector Workers Are the New Privileged Elite Class
- Raising Retirement Age Will Help Save Social Security
- Cutting Benefits Isn't the Way to Save Social Security
- How the New Consumer Bureau Will Help You
- Setting up the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
- The Truth Behind UFO Sightings and the U.S. Air Force
- American Dream of Home Ownership Has Become a Nightmare
- 5 Traits of the New American Consumer
- Stoned on Righteousness
- Frank Assessment of Teacher Performance Not Pleasant but Useful
- Large-Spirited America
- America: A Labor of Love
- America: Love's Labor Lost
- What We Need to Do to Save America's Middle Class
- Out of the Media Muck an Idiot Emerges
- Dilemma of the Open Megaphone
- Let's Keep Our Enemies Straight
- Can the CIA Put a U.S.-Born al Qaeda Figure on its 'Kill List'?
- A Christian Voice Argues for Banning Nuclear Weapons
- Will New York's Mosque Protests Aid Terrorist Recruiters?
- Repealing 14th Amendment Would Not Fix Immigration System
- 14th Amendment Doesn't Make Illegal Aliens' Children Citizens
- Immigration Reform Requires More Than Getting Tough or Feeling Good
- Defending a New Domain: The Pentagon's Cyberstrategy
- Before Katrina, There Was New York's 1896 Heat Wave
- EPA Surrenders to NRA on Gun Control Issue
- Rare Sighting: Common Sense from the Bench
- Is the Great Mosque Debate Making Us Stupid?
- Ground Zero Mosque Madness
- Ground Zero Mosque: Islamophobia? Not Really
- Gingrich and Palin: Twin Towers of Intolerance
- Detroit's Agony, America's Choice
- Iraq: U.S. Combat Troops' Departure Leaves Uncertainty in its Wake
- Corporate Rotten Eggs
- Strengthening the Political - Military Relationship
- A New Plan For Nuclear Postures
- Why the National Security Establishment Is Outdated
- Protecting the Pentagon Budget
- Approving the New START Treaty Keeps America Safe
- The New START Treaty Weakens U.S. National Security
- 'Ground Zero Mosque' Controversy Shows America's New Nativism
- Ground Zero Mosque Presidential Paradox
- Lack of Foresight Let 'Ground Zero Mosque' Controversy Balloon
- Republicans Hit Obama for Ground Zero Mosque Comments
- Obama's Ground Zero Mosque Mess
- The Sum of Our Parts
- The End of Books
- Steven Slater Airline Meltdown Hardly a Surprise
- Conversation on Race? We're Not Ready
- Everyone a Bigot?
- Let's Preserve Freedom at Ground Zero
- 10 Things You Didn't Know About Social Security
- Illogical Immigration
- Constitutional Amendments and Citizenship Rights
- Iran - The Next War
- How to Maximize Your Social Security Benefits
- How Working Longer Helps Build Retirement Security
- Social Security Inflation Adjustment Debate
- 21 Ways to Make Extra Money in Retirement
- Will You Run Out of Money Before You Run Out of Years?
- The Economy's Lasting Impact on Your Retirement
- Unconventional Retirement Investing Strategies
- Another Retirement Challenge for Women: Income Gender Gap
- 15 Ways to Tell if You Are Ready to Retire
- Investing Your Social Security Check? Consider These Factors
- Alternatives to Traditional Retirement
- 10 Uncommon Sources of Income in Retirement
- Sizing Up Your Retirement Nest Egg Needs
- Biggest Sources of Retirement Income
- Assembling a Sturdy Retirement Portfolio
- Retirement Savings Strategies for Late Starters
- 7 Reasons to Downsize in Retirement
- How to Tell if You Are Saving Enough for Retirement
'Citizen Journalism' Fad is Not Journalism
(c) 2010 Leonard Pitts Jr