Vin Crosbie says he’s heard enough about citizen journalism — or at least about the fantastical claims that are sometimes made for it:
It’s hard enough to find a professional journalist who can sit through 52 weeks of zoning board hearings and write intelligently about that, nonetheless finding an amateur who doesn’t have a vested interest or axe to grind and who can sit through and objectively write about those hearings….
[D]on’t get me wrong. I think that technologies via which readers can comment, help report, eyewitness, tip off, and otherwise supplement, amplify, or redirect newspaper coverage are absolutely needed. These are tools that every news organization should begin using (oops, I should have used the politically correct phrase: ‘begin sharing’) with people. I applaud BlufftonToday.com and other well conceived applications of this. And I support my friends who are helping to teach citizen journalism to the few citizens who do want to report.
But citizen journalism is a supplement, not a panacea. Citizen journalism itself isn’t going to reverse the declines in news readership, listernership, and viewership. Not by a longshot.
I agree. Citizen journalism is well worth trying, and could definitely be part of the mix that one day revives the news business. But there is nothing that brings more value to the table than reporting by professional journalists. It’s expensive, and there are no shortcuts.