The Fuzzy Nutter

Even Better Than The Real Thing

Posted by MSeech on September 7, 2007

It’s a battle to end all battles. Well not really, but don’t mess with the blogging world if you’re going to talk smack – I’m down with it. More specifically, don’t undermine the work and validity of citizen journalists/bloggers if your idea of journalism stops at reporting. In his New Yorker article, Nicholas Lemann, Dean of Columbia’s Journalism School may as well have equated citizen journalism with the newly-crowned Miss Teen USA - everything you want on the outside minus the substance. Lemann even went so far as to say:

“[T]he content of most citizen journalism will be familiar to anybody who has ever read a church or community newsletter – it’s heartwarming and it probably adds to the store of good things in the world, but does not amount to the collective challenge to power which the traditional media are supposedly too timid to take up.”

What Lemann fails to recognize is that citizen journalism allows the public/consumer/newsmaker to not only report on the news but also to focus in on what they deem as important. This is opposed to some guy (or woman) who is clueless as to what a random person in a random town feels is newsworthy. Therefore creating a failed connection between the two entities.

Lemann’s response to Jeff Jarvis’ challenge (see the very end) shows a disconnect between what is and what should be in regards to the training of “professional” journalisnts.

What is [Lemann’s take]: “[W]e focus mainly on reporting – that is, actively seeking the truth on subjects of interest and significance, and communicating it clearly and interestingly to the general public.”

And citizen journalism differs how? Bueller? . . . Bueller? So citizen journalists and/or bloggers may or may not have had professional training, or attened journalism school, but are those legitimate reason to cast them aside?

What should be [Jarvis’ take]: ” [J]ournalists must redefine their roles and relationships as more than just reporters, editors, and producers …” Amen, brother! Unless you’ve lived under a rock for the past, oh, let’s say 20+ years, journalists have become more than just reporters. They unkowningly step into numerous roles, but those who do realize this must take advantage of it. Of course, I’m not talking about those big journalism bucks to be made, but rather understanding what it takes to reconnect an already growing disconnect between the print and online worlds.

So the exchanges between Jarvis and Lemann (even those incredibly lengthy Bill Keller/Jeff Jarvis emails) may not haven been a 32-bit Mortal Kombat-style battle to the death, but there’s still hope bloggers and reporters may end up in such a duel.

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