Now everyone’s a Journalist with the Internet. (Week 11)

The Importance of Journalism

Saying that journalism is vital part of society would be an understatement. Without it, how would we know about anything that’s happening around the world? We would be clueless about everything major that is happening even in our own countries. Indicating that there is a lot of responsibility resting on the shoulders of Journalists. Any distortion, biasness, alteration or omission in their reporting may bring about cataclysmic consequences.

Journalism for Everyone!

So what is Journalism essentially? Dictionary.com defines it as, “the occupation of reporting, writing, editing, photographing, or broadcasting news.”
Sounds simple doesn’t it? Simple enough that any half-witted nosey-parker armed with a cheap laptop and a loose grasp of what he or she believes is the English language can do so?
I think not.


The Endangered Journalists

Journalists are one of the most respected professions in the modern world. Not only do they have to be strong in their language, they are also expected to report the news in an objective and unbiased manner. However, a strong sense of skill and ethics is not enough for some journalists. War correspondents and political journalists in countries with corrupted governments put their lives on the line just by doing their job.
 


Citizen Journalism

With that being said, I return to my previous point. How can unqualified commoners even attempt such a paramount task?
Ah, but they do. Under the guise of “Citizen Journalism.”
Ever since the emergence of Web 2.0, there has been more and more user-generated content. It was inevitable that a portion of this content would be news related.
A local website that features many articles from “Citizen Journalists” is STOMP by The Straits Times. They have a section titled, ”Singapore Seen” where netizens can contribute anything they deem newsworthy by submitting an image or even a video clip accompanied with a brief report. Another important feature of this section is that other users can voice their comments on a particular article. Most of these articles are of trivial matters and are mildly entertaining at best. However, there are some articles that just painfully display ignorance and irresponsibility.

Repercussions

Just take the article above as an example. Even though the woman in subject may seem like a public nuisance, she is clearly suffering from a mental illness. It is tragic enough that she is alone and confused while no one around understands or even helps her. On top of that, the writer of this article felt it was necessary to take a photograph of her, call her crazy and post this article on STOMP. He or she is trivializing the poor woman’s plight and at the same time publicly humiliating her in a website that has a few thousand viewers daily.

Benefits

However, I do understand that there is some entertainment value in citizen journalism. Who doesn’t enjoy reading about gossip or trivial issues from time to time? In fact, some articles of citizen journalism are rather insightful and bring an interesting and unique perspective to the table. This is a refreshing break from the mundane and heavily regulated local news.

Conclusion

Initially, I was extremely apprehensive, like the tone of this Blog entry, with the idea that the Average Joe can just call him or herself a journalist and just ramble on while thousands, probably ignorant or misinformed, would just listen and give their worthless opinions. A wise man, Hank Green, once said, “It’s almost as if our society values opinions more than it values knowledge.” One might gain nothing from most of these articles, but can lose valuable resources like time, tolerance and insight. On the other hand, a little gossip and trivia does not really hurt anyone. Moreover, there are actually some good and enriching articles also written by Citizen Journalists that are thrown into that mix. All that is required is that the moderators do more thorough and stringent regulation so as to weed out any undesirable articles like the one in subject. And try not to further sully the profession that is Journalism.

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