In today’s rapidly changing digital world most anyone can write a story and post it to their social media account, blog or website and call themselves a journalist. We might drive by an accident and take a photo with our smartphones and post a 280-character blurb about what happened. Does this make us a journalist?
As I continue to study media and culture in my digital media class at Syracuse, we discussed citizen journalism in class this week. Citizen journalists are those who have no formal training in journalism but may have a blog to which they post news and stories. The advances in the internet and digital technology have made it extremely easy for the everyday citizen to become a journalist, but at what cost?
As we discussed in one of our earlier classes, the barrage of information on the internet and on social media sites has made it difficult at times to decipher fake news from real news. So, if anyone can put information out there in the digital sphere, who is there to check for facts and accuracy. Real journalists are bound by ethics to be objective, accurate and attribute their sources. If you couple the citizen journalism style stories that may not be factual with cutbacks in journalism and the big media corporations, with an eye on the bottom line, we are seeing a trend in the slow death of journalism.
Most companies today are more interested in the number of clicks on a story than on true journalism and more importantly, investigative journalism. I’m talking about the type of journalism that holds our elected officials accountable and empowers our society with facts and the understanding to be able to make informative decisions. Instead many of the media holders (big media corporations) are holding journalism hostage. These corporations are more interested in clicks on stories about cute puppies, kittens and what celebrities are doing on vacation than on the real stories that are important to and impact our daily lives. And because of this trend, more people are believing the fake news or stories created by citizen journalists who may not have our best interest or the best interest of our society at heart.
But as we discussed in our class, there is a glimmer of hope that in today’s digitally-saturated world true journalism, especially at newspapers, can be saved. I want to believe that this is true. What about you?