• Social media and it’s failings

    Social media and citizen journalists are being heralded by some as the beginning of the end for traditional media or at the very least the most important step of a huge revolution within it but just how much of a threat is this new industry to its older counterpart? Will it destroy what we know today as the media or is it unlikely to even leave a scratch?
    Citizen journalists are in an undeniably interesting situation right now. They work alone and are under no pressure to deliver, except for the pressure from their readers. They don’t face the restrictions of the so called half-free or quasi-free press that many countries contain. They generally don’t have any commercial influences that would otherwise compromise their integrity and they also have total anonymity where they may choose. This all means that they are in an enviable situation when it comes to volatile issues and stories. They can publish information that a newspaper wouldn’t touch, they can hide behind their log in names when their revelations anger important people and they can write about a subject that is passionate to them, not just one that is lucrative. For the reader, however these freedoms have a darker side to them. Every advantage that the citizen journalist has over his professional counterpart comes at a price. A lack of legal restrictions also leaves the possibility of abuse; the comfort of anonymity also allows for sloppy or dangerous work, the lack of editorial control allows people to work for personal and not always honest gain.
    While many media outlets face understandable criticism for their way of doing business, for their commercial interests and their treatment of the issues of the day it is undeniable that many of the controls are there for better rather than worse. Just like reading an article on the Wikipedia, citizen journalism is quickly gaining a name for itself as untrustworthy.
    That’s not to say that all citizen journalists are liars; they’re not. The sad thing is that even the honest and brilliant ones face the harsh fact of life that is economics. Being a citizen journalist isn’t a thankless task, but for most it’s payless.
    What is likely to happen, however, is a merge in ideas. More Journalists will take up blogging, and more citizen journalists will be pimping their stories to newspapers for hard cash. If such a balance can be struck, the humble reader can rest easy. Standards will be unaffected but more sources of news means more likelihood for truth.
    As an aside, while I’m opposed to the notion that the citizen journalism is in any way a threat to professional journalism, I refuse to argue the point that their lack of training will be their downfall. That means nothing in the real world, your eye for a story, your contacts and your ability to cut through crap is what decides your ability to report.