Big Media should “monitor and regulate” citizen journalists?

It’s just to dadgum risky to let untrained people involve themselves in the business of news. So says David Hazinski an associate professor at UGA’s Grady College of Journalism:

The premise of citizen journalism is that regular people can now collect information and pictures with video cameras and cellphones, and distribute words and images over the Internet. Advocates argue that the acts of collecting and distributing makes these people “journalists.” This is like saying someone who carries a scalpel is a “citizen surgeon” or someone who can read a law book is a “citizen lawyer.” Tools are merely that. Education, skill and standards are really what make people into trusted professionals. Information without journalistic standards is called gossip.

No offense to journalists out there but doctors and lawyers earn advanced, specialized degrees and are governed by professional organizations. News organizations have no over site and while I’m sure most try to govern themselves by a code of ethics, they won’t be thrown in jail or sued for screwing up a story. Citizen doctors and citizens lawyers eventually get arrested.

CNN’s last YouTube Republican debate included a question from a retired general who is on Hillary Clinton’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender steering committee. False Internet rumors about Sen. Barack Obama attending a radical Muslim school became so widespread that CNN and other news agencies did stories debunking the rumors. There are literally hundreds of Internet hoaxes and false reports passed off as true stories, tracked by sites such as snopes.com.

Having just anyone produce widely distributed stories without control can have the reverse effect from what advocates intend. It’s just a matter of time before something like a faked Rodney King beating video appears on the air somewhere.

Hazinski fails to point out that CNN and You Tube selected the questions for the debate, not bloggers. The failure to discover the affiliations of those asking questions rests with CNN and You Tube and is not a result of an unregulated internet. His attempt to use that debate as proof of the need for regulation simply doesn’t make sense.

It’s true there are hoaxes on the internet, but the “fake Rodney King beating video” hypothetical has already happened – and it took bloggers to bring the truth to light. I’m sure Hazinski will recall Dan Rather’s use of phony memos to attack President Bush. How would Rather have been dealt with in Hazinski’s world of Journalistic oversight of bloggers?

Citizen reports can be a valuable addition to news and information flow with some protections:

19 comments

  1. Icarus says:

    Let me be the first to propose that the tax dollars used to fund Mr. (Dr?) Hazinski’s salary be redirected to Jace Walden’s Sanford-Dooley Stadium improvement fund.

  2. Doug Deal says:

    Icarus,

    All the “improvement” it needs is a bulldozer and a month or two of hauling debris, and it has all the improvement it needs.

    Anyway, someone should tell Hazinski that “citizen doctors” also do not have a first amendment allowing them to practice medicine, while bloggers do.

  3. Icarus says:

    I was reminding Doug of the horrible beating his beloved Buckeyes took at the hands of a lowly SEC team. Didn’t have time for Boortz.

  4. HardRight says:

    This has more to do with the topic than I care to admit, so I submit it even if it isn’t right on target:
    Andrew Keen, in his first book, The Cult Of The Amateur, makes valid points about Web 2.0 turning traditional media outlets into a flat world where anyone with an Internet connection is worthy of an ear. In a way, I am one of the amateurs he deplores: an unpublished author who, for lack of a legitimate book deal from a real world publisher, created a blog so I could be published. This blog of mine is truly the basest of all vanity presses available. It only demands my time and whatever the cost of DSL.

    Keen

  5. Doug Deal says:

    rugby,

    That’s what the free market is all about. Report shoddy news, you have no value to the public, hence no visitors. Report fictitious accounts to defame people, then lose credibility, which others would be free to point out. In the end, the consumer decides who is credible and who to trust, and not some unaccountable bureaucrat.

    Thus the system works as is.

    Icarus,

    I thought you were taking Huckabee’s lead and invoking God in order to save the embarassment of being Rainbowed in the Cotton Bowl. Georgia will learn that aloha also means goodbye.

  6. SouthFultonGuy says:

    Buzz,

    Here are Boortz’ show notes on the subject:

    REGULATE CITIZEN JOURNALISM

    David Hazinski, the head of broadcast news at the University of Georgia, feels that regulation is the only way to have proper news. Hazinski says that “citizen journalism” like blogs or YouTube isn’t really journalism and opens the industry to fraud and abuse. So rather than letting the public decide what they want to read or watch, Hazinski has a better idea: Regulate. Monitor and regulate this new industry.

    That’s right … regulate. This journalism professor at Georgia wants what he considers to be the legitimate journalism outlets to find a way for regulate “citizen journalism.” That, by the way, includes, in Hazinski’s words, “political blogs.” Now you may not realize it, but what you’re reading right now would be considered a political blog.

    Now just what does Hazinski mean by “regulate?” Can you have regulation without enforcement? And just who is out there that could regulate Nealz Nuze or other political websites? The answer, though he dares not say it in just these words, is none other than our wonderful government.

    So here are some of Hazinski’s ideas on how to regulate those evil citizen journalists.

    Major news organizations must create standards to substantiate citizen-contributed information and video, and ensure its accuracy and authenticity.

    They should clarify and reinforce their own standards and work through trade organizations to enforce national standards so they have real meaning.

    Journalism schools such as his at the University of Georgia should create mini-courses to certify citizen journalists in proper ethics and procedures, much as volunteer teachers, paramedics and sheriff’s auxiliaries are trained and certified.

    Just remember, folks. I am not a journalist. I never claim to be. I am a private citizen with a website and a radio show. I get to express my opinions in a country where the freedom to express one’s opinions is supposedly cherished. This UGA professor is upset with this. He wants regulation. I think he owes us another column sometime soon telling us just exactly what he believes the governments role should be in enforcing these standards he wants to establish.

    Remember, I am here to entertain you. Anything that you hear on the show or read on this website … research it for yourself. What Hazinski wants you to believe is that journalists are the be-all-end-all in news because they are licensed by the government. He does not believe that you have any capability of thinking for yourself or researching on your own to determine what you believe to be the truth.

  7. JawJaJim says:

    In all seriousness though, there are several organizations that monitor the media and ensure standards, the Associated Press comes to mind.

    The Associated Press does not monitor not does it insure standards for journalists. The AP is a cooperative news service owned by it’s members (newspapers, radio and television stations and networks). It’s sole role is to gather news and distribute it to its member-owners.

    As a former broadcast journalist, I must say that I have seen far better reporting from many so-called citizen journalists than from many that Mr. Hazinski would probably allow to practice the profession without a test.

    Realize that Mr. Hazinski is in the business of training and certifying journalists. He is a partner in a consulting company devoted to charging fees for the service – IMC Intelligent Media Consultants (http://www.intelligentmc.com).

    I think before Mr. Hazinski’s comments gain too much credibility or support (which, based upon the tone of comments since he offered his opinion, doesn’t seem too likely) that he elaborate more on his motives and agenda.

    Let he who is without sin cast the first stone, Mr. Hazinski.

  8. SpaceyG says:

    Where’s my damn blog license when I need it? Gosh darn it. I know it’s around here somewhere… maybe where I keep my punditry and opinion Official Seals of Approval from The Ministry? I’ll keep looking for ’em… maybe under the sofa cushions…

  9. Actually ‘over’ is spelled correctly as is ‘site.’ I used incorrect words not misspelled words Blake. 😉

    Surely you oppose outside supervision of bloggers just as you would outside supervision of newspapers?

    For the record, I’ve never called myself a journalist and I don’t consider myself one.

  10. Bill Simon says:

    ‘Zactly, Buzz. Why on Earth would anyone claim they are a journalist anyway? The likes of soooo many radical whack-jobs or liars before them have pretty much permanently muddied the waters of “objective journalism.”

    ……….except….perhaps there is one instance I know of where there is at least ONE objective journalist at work: Margaret Newkirk at the AJC, who is doing a rip-roaring balanced job on reporting the truth about the board of Cobb EMC diverting/funneling not-for-profit co-op resources into a for-profit enterprise of which they themselves are stockholders.

    SHE deserves a Pulitzer in every sense of the word.

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