The mainstream media has a short memory of its own sins when it comes to measuring the journalistic value of citizen media:
Citizen journalism can be a wonderful thing. In a news media world that’s ever shrinking, with journalists being asked to do more with less, the voices in newsrooms are fewer. Having community members who are interested in the issues and who have no problem getting involved can provide us with unique perspectives, alternate information and make us think outside the box. These are all good things for journalism and democracy.
But when these citizen journalists hide behind the anonymity the Internet provides it can get really ugly, really quick. Lies and misinformation can spread like wildfire.
I’m not saying that I, or any other journalist, is perfect. We’re certainly not. But we stand by what we write, with our names and contact information handy when our imperfections come out.
Here’s a short and incomplete list of how members of the mainstream media has failed to live up to expectations:
Exploding GM pickup trucks.
Not a citizen journalist in the bunch.
9 ways to shed light on election season with citizen journalism
The Franklin Center, which produced Watchdog Wire, a a right of center organization. Still, they offer some good advice.
From The Peoria Pundit:
Basic citizen journalism: Stuck your head ut the window and tell what you see.
Sign up for a blog and start your citizen journalism project. They can kill you, but they can’t eat you. Or, come to Blogger Bash tonight and get inspired.
Bloggers and people powered media of all kinds have used their powers to check the accuracy of the mainstream media. Now, we’re more and more using the power of the press to check and accuracy of all online journalism. And there’s a lot of bad stuff out there.
The internet, for all its benefits of spreading knowledge, is also saturated with disinformation. Right now, for instance, images are flooding in from social media that claim to accurately document the destruction taking place in Gaza. But according to the BBC, some of these date from years ago or actually show scenes from Syria or Iraq, and the organisation has urged people to verify images before sharing them.
This is old news to citizen journalist Brown Moses, who made his name crowdsourcing information in conflict zones, such as analysing weapons in Syria. “It’s quite incredible for me to see images from ‘Gaza’ and recognising that half of them are coming from Syria,” he told me. But he isn’t on the ground, checking the facts. Instead, he does it all from his front room in Leicester, England.
Brown Moses, or Eliot Higgins to use his AFK name, makes use of social media, open source tools, and public information to verify details that news organizations can miss. Today, he’s launching a site to pool his and others knowledge together in one place.
And here’s the definition of “fisking.”
Surprise! The communists who run Vietnam aren’t any nicer to bloggers than the punks in Alabama who toss bloggers in jail:
On May 25, 2014, a Vietnamese blogger and human rights activist, Tran Thi Nga, was seriously injured during a violent attack in Hanoi, a local human rights organization reported.
Tran Thi Nga, a savvy social media user in documenting human right abuses in Vietnam, was returning home after visiting fellow blogger Nguyen Tuong Thuy when five men—now suspected to be undercover police members—surrounded her motor bike, on which she was riding with her two children, the report said. The assailants attacked Tran Thi Nga in front of her children and chased her before beating her with a metal pole. The blogger sustained serious injuries to her knee, arm, and back.
This unfortunate incident comes at a time of similar orchestrated attacks against bloggers and social media users in Vietnam. Four other distinct incidents have occurred since March 2014.
Here’s the situation. The authorities in Vietnam share something with the punks in Alabama who arrested Legal Schnauser publisher Roger Shuler. They KNOW he’s a journalist. They didn’t jail him because he wasn’t a reporter. They jailed him because he was, and to date they are getting away with it. His blog hasn’t been updated since May 13.
In Vietnam, there is little Tran Thi Nga can do, except hope public outrage can sway calmer heads in her country’s government.