ST. LOUIS, MO (KPLR) - Last week, I had the privilege of traveling to the University of Oregon to take part in some seminars run by their journalism school. At some point, somebody mentioned citizen journalism and we were off and running.
The whole idea behind citizen journalism is that modern technology allows regular people with no training in journalism whatsoever to gather and report news. Smart phones, iPads, digital video cameras the size of a matchbox, you name it. All can gather information and then distribute it through thousands of web locations.
But having that technology and calling yourself a journalist is like sitting in your garage and calling yourself a car. Or as one of my fellow panelists acidly put it,"If you believe citizen journalism is real, then you should try going to a citizen dentist." Or how about boarding a 737 and finding out the elitist pilot's been replaced with a citizen who's used a flight simulator.
People who are fans of citizen journalism usually think the media's hiding things and not giving them the entire story. And they usually think that because they don't agree with what's being reported. So a lot of citizen journalism doesn't deal with facts. It deals with opinion. And its generally the opinion that the citizen journalist agrees with.
You can hate the media and be suspicious all you want. We screw up a lot. We make mistakes. But if you think that just anybody with an iPhone can do this job, then think again. It's a lot tougher than it looks. Unless you think a random person walking down the street doing your dental work is a good idea.
I'm Charles Jaco and that's Jacology.