Discussing the relationship between citizen journalists and professionals

This is posted on the j-source.ca web site. Nice place to visit if you’re looking to learn a bit about Journalism!

Feb 23, 2012 – Posted by Belinda Alzner

What should the relationship be between “citizen journalism” and traditional journalistic professionalism?

As a question often asked, this was the topic of a panel at a UNESCO conference last week, as Hannah Vinter reported ateditorsweblog.org.

Vinter said some main points that were discussed included the need for professionals to rigorously fact-check information given to them by citizen journalists, but that collaboration between the two groups was key in achieving thorough news coverage. Vinter writes:

According to [head of Al Jazeera social media Riyaad] Minty, one way to ensure accurate information from citizen journalists is to build strong relationships with trusted sources. “Don’t wait until something’s trending on Twitter before you report it,” Minty advised. At Al Jazeera, he said, “getting in early and building these relationships is absolutely pivotal to what we’re done”.

Minty also stated that Al Jazeera also uses experts with the right language skills and local knowledge to verify citizen contributions. In the end, he said, only a small proportion of citizen journalism submissions are broadcast by Al Jazeera: of the 16,000 videos that came to the news organisation during 11 days of Egyptian revolution, less than 300 or 400 made it to TV screens.

Of course, the idea of citizen journalism and the debate around its role in the industry is nothing new. In 2008, David Silverberg wrote that citizen journalism goes as far back as 2004, when citizens with cameras captured the aftermath of the Asian tsunami. Silverberg also said that traditional news needed to embrace citizen journalism in order to make the most of the participatory elements of Web 2.0; Online news could no longer be passive, he said.

So, while some news organizations are making a conscious effort to engage users more often, the question inevitably is raised that asks if the era of participation and citizen journalism threatens the role of professionals? In an interview with Lisa Lynch for J-Source, Alfred Hermida, UBC professor and co-author of the book Participatory Journalism, talked about the relationship between citizen journalists and those who are professionally trained:

There’s long been this idea of the mythical citizen journalist, but it hasn’t turned into a reality. I think what’s happened instead is that we’ve seen that citizens can indeed perform acts of journalism, but in fact they’re doing a fragment of the actual work a journalist does. They might be taking a picture, they might be reporting on something happening in front of them, they might be sharing a link, they might be editing an entry in Wikipedia. But the idea that you’re going to have a mass public who are going to do what journalists do hasn’t really transpired except in very specific circumstances.

What do you think? Is collaboration the key to making the most out of the relationship between citizen journalists and those professionally trained?



The more I hear about Japan, the more I wish to see it and experience it myself. Not just for a week, but long enough to identify the flavour and to be able to fully translate it…

The food, for example… the sushi (!),  and these chefs who have studied their WHOLE life to perfect one thing, such as soba noodles (80% buckwheat flour, 20% wheat). Some chefs that I have heard about are 8th generation noodle makers…  Wow. That blows me away. Their ancient techniques emit this worship for the ingredients, a profound respect. I have seen these amazing food/ fish markets where everything is so fresh and you can even find places to cook what you buy!!!

The Japanese tea ceremony. ( /etiquette.)  I find it delicately amazing when I see their traditional tea ceremonies. Then there is the sword and knife/blade making around Osaka, making some of the finest blades known to man. The Japanese pay painstaking attention to detail and it shows.

Let’s also not forget the Tokyo street that Gwen Stefani made popular, Harajuku…  Where it seems the people of that area dress up in character exaggeration. It’s very artistic in my eyes and inspires happiness in me to know that there is a place like this. Where life is an art and it is perfected more everyday.

Their simple and elegant.flower arranging art called ikebana. Their gardens, their martial art styles such as kendo, that doesn’t celebrate winning or losing, but the way one conducts themselves in the face of the challenge is what really matters. Peaceful. Traditions. Sake. Sushi. Rice. Soba noodles. Knives. Martial arts. Amazing.

I wish to know it better than just by the images I have seen on television…

Jill Hudson, 1964-2012

It is with sadness that I learned earlier today of the sudden death of Jill Hudson, one of the first graduates of our program. Jill passed away on Saturday, February 25th in the Kingston General Hospital.

Jill was a student in the first intake of Journalism students at St. Lawrence College, and as a result, helped me to learn what teaching is all about. From day one she was enthusiastic to the extreme. No one enjoyed what she did or treasured the career that lay ahead of her more than Jill.

As a student, Jill freelanced with the Glengarry News and after graduation moved on to work with the Prescott Journal and the St. Lawrence EMS paper. She became a blogger and a tweeter and still kept in touch with many of her former classmates as she worked at becoming an honest Journalist.

It is fair to say that Jill had a way of getting on people’s nerves from time-to-time, occasionally getting an idea in her head and refusing to let it go. She never entered or left a room quietly, but I can honestly say that no one ever worked harder than she did in trying to learn how to “get it right.”

What ever else you might say about Jill, you can say without reservation that being a Journalist really meant something to her, and I only wish that more people cared as much as she did. Sometimes that will carry you farther than anything else.

Her final deadline came, and Jill has moved on to her next great experience and I’m sure that she will embrace it with the wonder and joy of a child. Competitive by nature, Jill always wanted to “scoop” her classmates and be the first to find something new. It seems that once again, she has managed to do just that.

Rest in peace Jill, you did well.


To my fellow journalists…

I do believe…. we are slippin’.

The month of February consists of only 28 days (usually), yet this year we are blessed with that one extra day – and on reading week no less. If you scroll back over jour18 blog entries, you will see that there have only been 20 entries for the ENTIRE month! Granted, I’m not counting the replies, but if we are honest with one another, you know that figure won’t increase much even if I do.

We are all in this course for a reason – though admittedly, the range of our career aspirations vary somewhat on the  scale, the bottom line is that we all like to write, chose to write, and aspire to  write – so why aren’t we writing??

I would love to read whatever it is (well, perhaps I should refrain that) that you would like to write. What did you do today? planning for tomorrow? Do you have a bucket list? What are the important things in life for you? What type of material would you like to read from others?

I believe we should take advantage of Terry while we have the opportunity. What better place to practise our writing skills, be it with content, grammar, or pizzazz – all the input (without the condesending editor tones) the better. Anyone else agree?


What Happen to TV?

It recently came to my attention, after babysitting a three-year old, how awful kids cartoons and tv shows have become. When I was younger, I grew up watching Arthur and the Magic School Bus among other shows. Despite the fact they are cartoons, these were at least ‘good quality’, and not terrible sketches or stick people that look like they’ve been drawn by the children watching, that some cartoons seem to be today. Or in some circumstances, a hamster running around its cage with some squeaky voice over. What is this? Both shows I mainly watched told a story that left the child viewing them with a message that proved to be educational, and taught them every day values. I often found myself in my high school science classes remembering things I learned from the Magic School Bus. They each had such simple aspects to them, the kids loved watching them, without even realizing that they were learning. Today I watched an episode of Arthur (yes, I watched Arthur today, but it was on for my sister!) that was all about the unhealthy ingredients in candy bars, and promoted healthy eating for children in a way that they would understand. Sure, both Arthur and the Magic School Bus are still on tv today, but they are over ridden by mindless cartoons that make me cringe whenever I see them.

And it is not merely the children’s cartoons that have changed. The teen sitcoms that I used to watch on the original Family Channel, such as Boy Meets World, Smart Guy, Brotherly Love, and some older or newer, taught me about life, love, and family, not magic, the ideal physical image that teenagers should have according to society, or sex, alcohol or drugs. I never gathered any expectations for my own life from them, or wanted to be one of the characters, it was as though they were equals, and lived perfectly normal lives, in normal houses, in a normal town, that everyone could relate to. Not everybody in these shows were stick thin, with painted on faces, or had to act a certain way to be accepted. Today, teens and pre-teens end up watching shows like Hannah Montana, Wizards of Waverly Place, The Suite Life, etc, that show perfect lives of teens with great talents, whether it be singing, or magical talents, living pretty glamorously. How can you relate to that? Or then there are shows such as Gossip Girl or 90210, that will most likely make any girl, especially a preteen entering high school, feel bad about themselves, or have a high expectation for high school that is merely a Hollywood image, far from reality.

I certainly miss the shows that I grew up with. I guess it’s not only the tv shows that have changed, but the way society views things certainly has changed too. I certainly appreciate when I grew up, how I grew up, and what I grew up with. This is making me want to write a whole new blog about how kids these days act as opposed to when I grew up. Yes, it sounds silly to say, seeing as I am only 18, but the difference in such a short time is incredible! Or maybe it’s just my small town background…?


Value of Life?

I`m going to keep this short.

Over the past 2 years now, I have observed an alarming trend which has taken our society by force. I`m talking about animal rights and all that stuff. Don`t get me wrong animal rights is great and all but…have you noticed that the general public seems more upset over the death of a puppy than a toddler!? To think that last year, an Ottawa couple weren`t charged by the police when they left their toddler in their car, on a hot summer day with no windows open, is…well plain stupid and makes me wonder where our society will end up in 20 years from now. To make matters worst, the parents excuse was that they simply had forgotten about their kid while they were grocery shopping. Now let`s go back to animal rights shall we? Last year, there were countless reports of `animal abuse` throughout Ontario. Many of these reports led to prison time for some, huge fine for others. What kind of abuse am I talking about? Well get ready for this one folks. Leaving your pet inside your vehicle on a summer day…That`s right… What I don`t seem to understand , is how our system values an animal`s life more than a human`s! Anyhow my last small argument is this. Have you noticed how cases of animal abuse get worldwide attention, while a child’s death is nothing more than…normal? Have you also noticed how our society tends to defend the said abused animal furiously? They send death threats, they stalk and they even attack the `abuser`. Do we see this with child rapists and killers? Of course not. My point is that our feminized and over sentimental society has set a ridiculous value to life, which hopefully will change!