I am a big citizen journalist and bloggers supporter (I am one myself), but I am just appealing for some perspective here.
We are in the hype phase of the citizen journalism phenomenon sweeping the globe. This means we are overemphasising the positive aspects of the phenomenon and not looking closely enough at the problem areas. There are problem areas, for example a lack of formalised ethics, training, adherence to strict rules of balance etc etc among bloggers and citizen journalists… these are the problem areas.
I think it will take a high profile blunder by a major blogger for the spotlight to turn on the weaknesses of citizen journalism — just like we saw with Wikipedia. It took some major high profile innacuracies and problems for people to start questioning the internet’s latest wunderkind: Wikipedia.
I predict the same will happen eventually with citizen journalism.
Then we will have a more sober and realistic view of citizen journalism and the blogging phenomenon. Hey — don’t get me wrong I am a citizen journalism supporter. I behave both as a traditional journalist when I write for the Mail & Guardian and write my columns for the Media magazine. I behave like a citizen journalist when I write these blogs.
I believe citizen journalism and traditional journalism are not mutually exclusive. Cit J will not replace traditional journalism or vice versa. They will exist side by side, each important in their own righ each offering the reader something different and important — and this is when a publication is at its strongest: strong analytical, investigative stories together with user comment and participation.