Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Citizen journalism vs. traditional media

by Acor Arceo

With the rising popularity of citizen journalism, critics have raised the question of whether it can be as reliable as traditional media.

Merinews, the first citizen journalism site in India, explains the importance of citizen journalism.

“In this world where every media house is driven by a motive to earn revenue, it is bound to happen that news that is important to you and me is often pushed back,” states Merinews. ”Citizen journalism is breaking free of this media bias. It is about writing on issues which you feel are important. It is about telling the world your views.”

Since its inception last year, Merinews has been advocating citizen journalism in India.

In the Philippines, one site for citizen journalists is PinoyBee, “the first user-powered Filipino news community.”

“The community strives to connect, entertain and inform readers on a variety of matters,” states PinoyBee on its site.

Its topics range from technology, sports, and religion, to show business, fashion, sex, and food. Correspondents from Manila, Davao, Boracay, Cebu, and other parts of the country regularly post articles.

Over 4,100 articles have been posted by PinoyBee’s top users, who are encouraged to post “stories important to you [and] to Filipinos worldwide.”

However, Danilo Arao, a journalism assistant professor at the University of the Philippines, stresses in a speech why citizen journalists must be scrutinized.

“Despite the opportunities offered by the new media, we must keep in mind that journalistic outputs are mainly used to reach out to audiences,” he says. “It is imperative therefore for a [person] to know the principles and standards of journalism before calling himself or herself a journalist.”

In the case of PinoyBee, anyone with an e-mail address may become a correspondent. A person just has to select a username and password, then submit articles for posting on the site. This could pose problems in verifying the truthfulness of information.

Arao adds that informing through cyberspace is a task not to be taken lightly.

“The Internet has become a venue for interest groups to relay their messages, putting up websites and e-groups, among others, to reach out to online users. They all have something in common: They claim to know the truth and they try their best to be as convincing as possible,” he says.

“Despite the advances in modern technology there is still a need to go back to the fundamentals of journalism and the journalists’ basic task of shaping public opinion.”

3 comments:

sample said...

Hello

Acor, I appreciate the effort of trying to find your own sources, but now that you’ve explained it (that they haven’t replied yet and you had to rely on online sources), allow me to make a few comments, both in style and content.

First, online news is more punishing and unforgiving when it comes to deadlines. These days “I couldn’t get a source” simply won’t wash.

Second, your headline does not present a single solid thought: “Citizen journalism vs. online media.” People might ask: “So what?” (remember whence?). What about citizen journalism vs online media? We already know that the two have differences, but are they really competing (remember I said that the fundamentals of journalism remain the same)? Maybe the “vs” is the problem here. If you were to write “challenging” or “raises questions about,” that would have been more of a statement. Sometimes online readers would just go through the headlines, so the headline itself should capture the gist of what you’re saying.

Third, the story is stating the obvious, it doesn’t offer something fresh, something new, something exciting. BUT (and this is all caps, the BUT), I may be biased, because for me this is nothing new.

On the upside, this is a good start, considering that this is the first post for the entire class and all. I see the effort of trying to connect the lecture with what’s happening out there, which is more important for me. For me, the class is but an introduction, it’s the actual output I’m looking at.

Second, you attributed your quotes to the stories well, and tried to get both sides (medyo kulang lang nga).

Third, it’s a good idea to see your names and pictures there. You know why? It shows that -- aside from posterity -- you are holding yourselves accountable for what you have just written. You affixed your name and proudly state -- foolishly or wisely depending on how you measure your capabilities -- that you are responsible for what you write, you placed your pictures and credentials there, and that you are not just some anonymous person trying to call himself or herself a journalist.

Comments: Try to ask Danny how he would define the word “journalist.” We have professional journalists who never went through a single day of journalistic training. Also, it’s funny how Danny himself does not realize that he himself is a citizen journalist. This is precisely what we must banish from our heads: Old, myopic and self-important views on who should or should not be called a “journalist.”

Overall, good first post.

Anonymous said...

Hi Acor

Cool article on citizen journalism.

BTW, you may want to fix the PinoyBee.com link

An'on

Anonymous said...

Acor

A quick search on blogs linking to my website (www.dannyarao.com) led me to this entry on your blog, hence this reply.

I thank you for quoting my speech in your online article. I share your professor's view that this is a good start in analyzing the practice of citizen journalism in the Philippines.

Allow me to just react to my so-called "old, myopic and self-important" views as regards the definition of who a journalist is or should be.

Reviewing my 2006 speech, I merely stressed the need for bloggers to adhere to established standards and principles of journalism in order to be called "citizen journalists."

In the same way that there are "hao siaos" in print and broadcast media, there are those in the blogosphere who tend to pass themselves off as journalists but actually write posts that cannot be considered journalistic outputs. These are the bloggers we have to guard against, and we cannot be liberal in calling all bloggers journalists, even of the "citizen" kind.

There is nothing wrong with adhering to principles and standards. We must also realize that a journalism or mass communication degree is not a requirement for knowing these.

I think a good start in understanding the concept of citizen journalism is Poynter Online's 11 Layers of Citizen Journalism. Personally, I find some of the points there debatable but I think I will leave that up to you and your groupmates to analyze. From there, try to see if I, given my journalism background, can really be called a "citizen journalist" as what your professor says.

In any case, I wish you and your groupmates all the best, and I hope that I have clarified some points raised by your professor.

Kindly extend to him or her my regards. The fact that he or she calls me by my nickname Danny could mean that we have met in the past.

Danilo Arao
UP Diliman