Last class, I mentioned my former colleague Martin Fletcher (for whom I still harbor great affection), and his diatribe against citizen journalism:
…if information is the air that a democracy breathes, it follows that if information is less good, democracy will be less good too. So does the democratization of the media, through Internet news sites like the Drudge Report or Debka.com, citizen journalism, user-generated content, blogs and networks, help or hinder accurate information? After all, if half the “exclusive” information on Debka turns out to be correct, they’re happy. That rate would get me fired.
Of course, Martin, in his position, is doing what is only natural for a professional in his position: justifying his, and mainstream media’s, relevance. And he reaches absolutely the wrong conclusion, by blaming the wrong messenger. News outlets were corrupted long before the rise of the amateur, with corporate takeovers, and an infusion of entertainment values that blinded even the best professionals when the real stories required telling.
Then there’s Newsweek’s most recent nonsense, declaring the end of user-generated content and “The Revenge of the Experts.” Quite honestly, as a former network news journalist myself, I admit there’s no doubt that MSM needed a quick kick to the head long ago. Thankfully, the low barriers to entry for UGC create a much more competitive environment for information distribution generally, even if some of it is meaningless froth. So, for that matter, is at least two hours of the four-hour Today Show. To scrub your brain clean if you can make it through the Newsweek article, check out Matthew Ingram’s blog entry, “Newsweek Does a UGC Drive-By” Terry Heaton’s, “Newsweek Advances Andrew Keen’s Ignorance,” or just peruse what we’re doing here at FlipTheMedia (which, from all this, CLEARLY needs FLIPPING!).
Posted by Hanson Hosein