Monday, September 3, 2007

We're all journalists now

"Journalism is an endeavor, not a job title; it is defined by activity, not by how one makes a living, or the quality of one's work. Although we are not all engaged in the practice of journalism, any one of us can be if we want to. In that respect, we're all journalists now."
--"We're All Journalists Now: The Transformation of the Press and Reshaping of the Law in the Internet Age," by Scott Gant, available to read online free at Google Books.

Dan Gillmor said the same thing in a Wired article with the same title three years ago. His book, "We the Media: Grassroots Journalism by the People, for the People," avoided the Us vs. Them arguments so prevalent these days.

The difference now: Gant's book sits on prominent shelves in major bookstores. Friends, neighbors, politicians, P.R. people and children of journalists understand that a major shift has occurred in the journalism force. We can all be spies on Stalkbook, otherwise known as Facebook, and we can all be journalists. It has to cause uncertainty among those who count on journalism for salaries, and for those who worry about who is being granted and denied access to news. See photographer Gary O'Brien's thoughts from the Minneapolis bridge story in an earlier posting by Leslie.

At the same time, as business and government make access more difficult for a dwindling number of professional journalists, it's heartening to know that others are accumulating skills. A firefighter with a camera might get a shot that the photographer from the paper is forbidden access to; employees of a contractor delivering soldiers' bodies from Iraq get shots heard around the world despite government rules. They lose their jobs, but tell the story.

The amateurs will make many missteps. We all have. But it makes me wish for a "master journalist" designation, much like many communities have master gardeners. In exchange for further training, the master gardeners volunteer by spreading their knowledge in the community. Each one, teach one.

About the photo: The photo is from Flickr, and is of Maurits Burgers, a vlogger with and also a beta tester for Joost. He has an interesting video of a Flickr meetup in the Hague, Amsterdam, in the top 10 videos at his site. It's called "1st haags bakkie," poorly translated as "first CB-set in the Hague."


Andria said...

Commenting on my own post, so lame I know.
Stumbled upon this (work-related, really):
CNN has I-reporters, using details at

and advertising at

Their files indicate that some of their I-reporters were indeed the first on the scene of the Minneapolis bridge collapse and felt compelled to jump in and report.

Dunno how much time and money went into building this relationship, or what kind of money, if any, is involved. But it's an interesting model.

Maurits said...

Good article and nice to see my picture here Andria.
I-reporters and citizen journalists are the future for sure.
I like the way you translated "bakkie" to CB-set, where in this case "bakkie" means cup of coffee. 1st Haags Bakkie = The Hague coffe meet-up.
Coming Friday will be the 4th Haags Bakkie with a group of The Hague Flickr photographers

Andria said...

Thanks for the comment, and the correction on "bakkie."
I'm studying the impact of technology on global communications this semester, and it's awesome to see personally how small the world can get.
If you run into any Dutch "Croesens," tell them they have lots of American cousins in journalism....