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In the Unverified Digital World, Are Journalists and Bloggers Equal? 156

oztechmuse (2323576) writes "As the source of news moves increasingly away from traditional channels to the millions of people carrying mobile phones and sharing commentary, photos and video on social networks, the distinction between journalists and bloggers has become increasingly blurred. Making sense of this type of information has been as much a challenge for journalists as it has bloggers. Journalists, like bloggers, have had to learn new skills in working in this environment. Highlighting this has been the release of the Verification Handbook which attempts to educate journalists in how to process user-generated content in the form of videos or images acknowledging that much of the reporting about situations, especially emergency ones, comes from the public. The techniques outlined are accessible to anyone reporting on a story, adding to the eroding gap between bloggers and journalists."
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In the Unverified Digital World, Are Journalists and Bloggers Equal?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 24, 2014 @10:11AM (#46563341)

    Shield laws mean that professional (read: attached to a major news organization) journalists will always be more legitimate than bloggers, as they have legal protections that bloggers can only dream about.

  • by dreamchaser ( 49529 ) on Monday March 24, 2014 @10:18AM (#46563389) Homepage Journal

    Shield laws mean that professional (read: attached to a major news organization) journalists will always be more legitimate than bloggers, as they have legal protections that bloggers can only dream about.

    Not according to the 9th Circuit Court []. Bloggers are journalists, according to that ruling.

  • Professionals ? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by DickBreath ( 207180 ) on Monday March 24, 2014 @10:38AM (#46563523) Homepage
    We've all seen the professionals get it wrong. Sometimes very wrong.

    Furthermore, dedicated ammatuers who focus on a particular subject often have quicker and better coverage of news on that topic. Professional mass media news often over simplifies news, sometimes to the point of almost losing the story.

    Then we've all seen the bias of professional news organizations. Freedom of the press is for whoever owns one. Look at how all mainstream mass media was completely silent about SOPA until the Internet forced the issue into the public eye. Then, the professional journalists all told whatever story their owners wanted us to hear.

    I'm not saying that professional journalism is all bad. It's just not all good either. And the same for ammatuers. It is up to you to decide what news sources you trust. Some professionals have, and should rightfully so, not be given any trust.

    We now have news channels that are more about info-tainment and the most fantastical splashy graphics than they are about real news. Closing down bureaus and getting rid of real investigative reporters because it is cheaper to just do talking heads? Then we also have professional news sources whose entire purpose is to promote a particular ideology. So maybe, increasingly, the only difference between the ammatuers and professionals is how big a budget they have? Now TV news anchors have to be fashion models. But in the past they had to be journalists who eventually earned the position of anchor. They weren't models, they just had to look okay.

    So I find arguments about the goodness of professional news over news on the internet to be less than completely convincing.
  • by CauseBy ( 3029989 ) on Monday March 24, 2014 @10:54AM (#46563703)

    I agree with your headline but not with your post. The answer is no, bloggers and journalists are not equal, because blogs are the source of most high-quality journalism. Especially for science and politics, "professional" journalists in the Western world produce lamentably bad stories. The bloggers routinely have to fact-check and provide appropriate context for stories that a journalist could have corrected with five minutes on Ask Jeeves.

    It is true that there are a small number of very good pro journalists, and it might be true that the 'average' blog post is lower quality than the 'average' newspaper article, but neither of those is the right measure of quality.

    The right question to ask is, what is the source of MOST of the HIGH QUALITY news, and the answer to that is blogs. If you ignore all the low-quality stuff from all sources, and focus on the high quality stuff from all sources, then among that high-quality set, most of that will be from blogs.

  • by Runaway1956 ( 1322357 ) on Monday March 24, 2014 @10:59AM (#46563759) Homepage Journal

    The problematic word really IS "verified". No journalist should ever have to be "verified". Want to be a member of the press? Just print a card with the word "PRESS" in bold letters. Did Thomas Paine carry a press card? Was Ben Frankiin "verified"? Screw any member or agency of gubbermint that wants to "verify" a journalist!

  • by ubrgeek ( 679399 ) on Monday March 24, 2014 @11:27AM (#46564035)
    What you said. A "journalist" is someone with a degree in communications, journalism (regardless of print or broadcast). Anyone can provide information and term it "news."

    Just because I can perform CPR doesn't make me a doctor.
  • by nbauman ( 624611 ) on Monday March 24, 2014 @01:00PM (#46565003) Homepage Journal

    I write about medicine. I read the journals and go to the conferences.

    I was passing by New York City Hall (during the Giuliani Administration) and I saw a demonstration by AIDS activists, something that I had been covering. I always like to talk to the real people involved, so I tried to get over to the demonstration.

    Giuliani put a locked gate around City Hall. I had to stop by a guard post. I told the guard what I was doing, and he told me I needed press identification. I told him that I should be able to go to the demonstration simply as a member of the general public. But he was an asshole on a power trip and insisted that I needed a press ID. Finally I saw somebody else walk through without press ID, so I just walked through myself.

    I later called up City Hall to complain about the guard, and went through a long series of written complaints to supervisors who were perpetually on vacation or had been moved to a different job. Finally the City Hall guards let some politician's friend with a gun into City Hall without screening, and he shot and killed a City Council member. It was no longer a good time to press on with a complaint like that.

    I also called the City Hall press office and asked them what the requirements were for a press card. They were actually reasonable as written. The original purpose of a press card is to let you cross police lines during a fire or other emergency, or big events or demonstrations, and they gave press cards to reporters who regularly covered them for news media. Counter-cultural publications like the Village Voice and WBAI-FM got press cards. Less formally, they let the cops know when the reporters were watching so they didn't beat up demonstrators with cameras around. With time, press passes turned into a prestige item that publishers and other freeloaders used to try to get out of speeding tickets, get free admission to the circus, cage free meals at restaurants, etc. You had to fill out a form and apply, documenting that you actually do cover events where a press card is useful. I thought that it might actually make a good story, for the National Writers Union newsletter or someplace, "How to get a police press card."

    I decided that I don't need your fucking press card. I can find out enough just by exercising the rights I have as an ordinary citizen, and exercising my willingness to go to jail if that's what it takes, to get my readers the information that they want and have a right to know.

    One of the things that always amused me was the outrage of the press (like the New York Times) when the cops beat up their reporters during a demonstration (at the Chicago 1968 Democratic Convention, for example). Why weren't you doing your job of reporting the truth when we were getting beaten up by the cops, in front of your own eyes?

    So blogger, shmogger. You don't need a press pass to write journalism. All you need are your rights under the Constitution and the willingness to get beaten up and go to jail.

"my terminal is a lethal teaspoon." -- Patricia O Tuama