It’s The Citizen, Stupid

Jeez Louise! With all the MSM journalists sobbing in their seats about the demise of journalism (as they know it) at last night’s Atlanta Press Club/Society of Professional Journalists awards, and the Georgia Gang scratching their receding hairlines over how to make money online, since it’s obvious (even to them) that journalism is headed online, you’d think these j-folk types were dumb and dumber.

In reality, these are very smart people. Only thing is, most of ’em aren’t terribly entrepreneurial or techno-creative. (HINT: things online are driven by innovative technology and compelling journalistic content.)

So, let’s say the mutual point of agreement is that news and journalism are moving primarily online. Thus, you’d think that would be an environ you’d need to be hyper-aware of, right? And participating in by all means. Not diddling around on the bureaucratic cluster-f**k that is Georgia public TV, but I digress…

However, I don’t think too many journalists, particularly the “big dogs,” as Dick Williams calls the likes of Ernie Suggs at the AJC, are doing a whole lot of brainstorming about creating compelling journalistic content specifically for an online environment. And that’s ok, in a way; that might not be the best use of their skills. But I sure hope, at the very least, they are having conversations with experienced people about it.

Williams, publisher of the Dunwoody Crier, is beginning to sniff up the right trail though when he mentioned how critical it is to report and break daily, metro news, but none of ’em has yet to even uncover, let alone begin to utilize, the treasure trove they are all standing right on top of. Heck, not one MSM journalist last night, nor a single one on the Georgia Gang discussing the demise of newspapers/AJC today ever ONCE mentioned the citizen in all this.

Never ONCE did a single journalist I encountered in my 24-hour MSM journalism tour EVER mention their audience as contributor. Not ONE seems to grasp the concept of journalism being, thanks to personal technology, an interactive process now. Not ONE mentioned the concept of citizen as journalist.

Thus I must, sadly, assume that none of these news pros understand that ordinary people are “out there” committing journalism; that when ordinary people create blogs and video and commentary (and upload cell phone video of a horrible and serious condition on our public transportation system, for instance) and yes, even do “real” reporting and compile data and original content, they are indeed committing that compelling, breaking, critical, METRO daily news that folk like Williams know is vital to the health of a community. And vital to the life of a news org, big or small, too.

The trick for the editor/publisher is HOW to harvest that citizen process to help them develop compelling, engaging, interactive, participatory news content. Right now, this is clearly the biggest case of leadership blurting “there go my people, I’d better catch up” since the French Revolution.

And as for the how are we going to make money online?, the million dollar question everyone keeps asking… it’s going to be about product placement. Yes, that gets a little tricky when doing impartial, investigative journalism endeavors, but it’s not impossible. It will all live, or die, on complete and perfect total transparency and full disclosure. Let the consumer (of any news products) decide. Personally, I have absolutely NO qualm about stating that one of my indie videos for instance was, thankfully and blessedly, sponsored by the generosity of, for instance, Coca Cola. Hell, I’d drink a darn Coke first on-camera, then start the interview! But that’s just me. Others might be a bit more of the purist.

I’d like to see ANY serious Atlanta-based techno-journalist-entrepreneur person get ahead of this online journo game. Because YES, it can be done. Believe you me, if I’d divorced richer (as Arianna had the good sense to do), I’d have snapped-up some talent over on Marietta Street last week.

BTW, Allen Jud and Andy Miller of the AJC won the APC’s Journalist(s) of the Year for their investigative reporting on the crisis that is Georgia’s state mental health care institutions. Congratulations to them, but I gotta wonder if they still have jobs this week.


  1. rugby fan says:

    One of the things you missed in last night’s speech from Bob Edwards’ speech that explains why the audience was never mentioned is because while everyone can now be a journalist, no one is an editor.

    So yes it is nice that anyone can now submit an iReport to CNN but that also means you will more useless crap being submitted that isn’t worth the digital file it is submitted in.

  2. SpaceyG says:

    No Rugby, I didn’t miss it. I wasn’t writing about Bob Edwards’ message of doom here though.

    I was there, as obviously you were too. If you were a smart person, you would understand the shortcomings of blogging and citizen journalism, and ADD to the process of reporting what went on last night, instead of merely fueling your hater agenda towards me.

    And you just acted in the role of editor, BTW. Shame you can’t do it any better. An editor’s job is to filter the crap from the good stuff. Or moreso now, to frame the issues, coming from all these many multimedia sources now, in a way that makes good journlistic sense. You obviously have a long ways to go in that capacity.

  3. rptrcub says:

    @SpaceyG: But Spaceyyyyy, drinking a Coke and having a smile on camera would soooooo sooooo violate journalistic independence …. sorry, I almost spat out my coffee trying to keep a straight face.

    The way I see it, everyone’s a whore these days. So you might as well choose your john and lay out the rules for your whoredom in order to have the cash to do a good job. And if you’re doing some consumer reporting on Coke, just don’t have the bad sense to make CCE your daddy. Find a different john.

  4. SpaceyG says:

    Exactly, I don’t see pimping a stupid little soft drink as interfering with committing journalism. Of course, if you are reporting on how, say, cola sugar products may cause diabetes and kidney disease if you drink too many of them, then you may want to forget the stupid soft drink products and find that different john you speak of. Believe you me, there is no shortage of ’em.

    Yes, clearly and emphatically state the rules of your (indie, meaning pimp-free) whoredom means and methods, and go from there. It’s all in the disclosure. Buyer beware.

    But whore will commit only acts laid-down (bad choice of words I know) by their law now. Thus you can, moreorless, keep indie-ho status that way. You simply cut out the middle person (pimp) now.

  5. SpaceyG says:

    Moreorless. You can call it whatever you want, but that’s the American way, hon. To not love and endorse that purely capitalistic process would call even your precious patriotism into question. Right?

  6. Harry says:

    Are you sure you’re really comfortable with all this? What’s really going on is the opposite of what you think. Local media has been dying for decades, i.e. long before the internet appeared. Where do the great younger unwashed generation go for their news? Not to you or me geek junkies. They go to their home page, be it yahoo or msn. Now, who’s your daddy?

  7. Romegaguy says:

    Surprised that real journalists would invite a hack like Spacey to one of their functions

  8. rugby fan says:


    The problem is, turning a news organization into a newsy YouTube or Blogger won’t help anything.

    All that means is that to get to a legitimate article, one would have to sift through far too many videos or posts that aren’t good, newsworthy, or informative.

    Citizen journalism is not the answer.

    I am not acting in an editorial capacity in anyway. I am not revising any content, assigning stories, or making any decisions that would affect content of Peach Pundit. To bad you can’t recognize what an editor does.

    Now if you can carry on a debate with insults (unlikely given your body of work here, and the only reason I would have something close to a “hater agenda” toward you) then I would like to keep this discussion going. If you have to result to invectives, have a nice day.

  9. Game Fan says:

    They’re all part of a big conglomerate. They can’t even insult the BK king without some editor crawling up their asses or getting the dreaded “phone call” from somebody.

  10. Game Fan says:

    Bloggers on the other hand are more like the “angry customer”. We still get to say whatever we want to even if we don’t get a press pass. Of course some of us still rely on cutting edge journalism and news that ain’t part of the mainstream to stay informed.

  11. SpaceyG says:

    Would love to stop and chat a while longer Rugby, but that would be a “careful what you ask for” scenario, as I can talk about CJ and social media and online media and the convergence of all for weeks on end without stopping. Indeed, that’s what I often do and often in public forums such as media conferences. I’ll give you a holler next time I’m at the podium. (I’m typically, but not always, on my best corporate-y, ladylike behavior at conferences and stuff like that too.)

  12. Rogue109 says:

    I can talk about CJ and social media and online media and the convergence of all for weeks on end without stopping. Indeed, that’s what I often do and often in public forums such as media conferences. I’ll give you a holler next time I’m at the podium.

    Those who can, do. Those you can’t, talk about those that can.

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