Brian Fuller's blog on the media, marketing and content creation

When bad people intersect with good ideas

Posted on | October 5, 2008 | No Comments

Citizen journalism is under fire from a number of fronts. The juxtaposition was made abundantly clear in today’s San Francisco Chronicle, which put two stories side by side in the A section:
Citizen journalism carries unique pitfalls
This story rehashed the CNN story that falsely reported that Steve Jobs had been rushed to a hospital after a heart attack. Apple’s stock valuation paid $9 billion for the error.
Just elow that was a story:
Grassroots lose luster when a local blog is found to be a fraud

This was an AP story out of Iowa City in which a corporation was found to be behind a “peoples” blog that defended some controversial hiring practices.
Then there are the nasty lawyers chasing after good bloggers who don’t have the resources to defend themselves in court against bullying–and bogus–lawsuits.
It’s amusing that newspapers–among the most threatened by blogger and digital media–have awakened from their stupor and are beginning to seize any opportunity to slam the competition. It took them long enough.
It’s amusing that CNN jumped on the digital bandwagon with its iReport reports but apparently has a hard time understanding that the responsibility for responsible journalism lies with its editors, not with citizen journalists. Who’s the gatekeeper?? CNN clearly fired up this aspect of its site to exploit homemade videos of breaking news. It’s now spiraled out of their comfort and expertise zone. I’d give it a month and it’s dead. It’s not their core business, and they can’t manage it on a cost-effective basis.
We’re learning a lot right now about the brilliance that underlies the Bill of Rights. The Constitution guarantees freedom of speech. More than 100 million blogs are living that every day.
At the same time, the Constitution doesn’t protect speech from lawsuits. (And the side with the most money doesn’t always win; that’s why we have juries of our peers).
The conspiracy theorists will say that multinational corporations and the government are conspiring to enable things like citizen journalism precisely because they can attack dissenters unable to defend themselves. They are, therefore, stomping out free speech, slowly but surely. Clearly there is dangerous power being concentrated in the hands of conglomerates. Always has been.
At the same time, Americans don’t like bullies. They have supported media for more than a century that has the wherewithal to publish or broadcast controversial stories and defend them in the courts. Usually they win.
It may be the optimist in me, but I think they’ll continue to support some forms of media that comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. It’s been in our DNA for 400 years.

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No Responses to “When bad people intersect with good ideas”

  1. Ry Schwark
    October 6th, 2008 @ 12:26 pm

    The whole rise of the iReporter thing just cemented my low opinion of CNN. Talk Radio News? Really?

    I go to the BBC now. Should have made the switch a while ago….

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