The Bad Side of Citizen Journalism: Verifying Facts

“Just the facts, ma’am. Just the facts.” – Joe Friday, Dragnet

Blogland seems to break itself into two different sectors: Citizen Journalism and OpEd. Personally, I’m an op/ed guy…everything in here is purely personal opinion, and I don’t spend much time reporting on things. Occasionally I’ll link to some news if I find it interesting (such as this piece on the recent discovery of Kryptonite on non-cartoon earth) (KRYPTONITE, ffs!!!!), but for the most part my blog is a self serving place for me to rant. It’s a completely selfish place, and I make no secret of it, and I don’t expect anyone to dig it. The Op/Ed types tend to be a bit pretentious and the Citizen Journalists tend to be arrogant and consider themselves better than the others. Neither is right or wrong.

The majority of the citizen journalist guys pass themselves off as regular journalists, and sometimes even have side jobs either as journalists or marketing folk. I have a ton of these guys linked in my browser, but not in the blog links. I often find their insight and reports valuable in my day to day existence. I do take some of them with a grain of salt, as they tend to spend alot of time bragging how great and prescient they are (even tho the “predictions” they make were usually public domain before they made them), but I do glean useful bits of info from them too. What’s dangerous is believing the news reports, apparently.

At least hacks like me don’t spend half our time bragging about our knowlege and abilities in reporting the facts. And then miss completely without bothering to validate the facts. The arrogance of these guys is outshined only by their unprofessionalism. If you reported like that in the real world, you would lose your job and the newspaper would probably get sued. A good portion of the citizen journalist types know this. It doesn’t matter who posted it first and where u got it from…if you’re a reporter, check the facts. What kind of bugs me is if it’s bloggers that I have a bit of respect for, I feel like they let me down, and now most everything they publish is suspect. And the thing is, I tend to believe these guys when they publish stuff until proven guilty. I don’t always have time to verify the facts, I count on my citizen journalist roll to do that for me. And if they don’t do that, they jeopardize my whole information system! Maybe I’m out to lunch on this, but it’s my opinion, and this is, after all, an Op/Ed blog.

And that’s the thing…if I’m wrong in something, I’m wrong and admit it. I can change it or not change it, that’s my prerogative. No one comes to my blog looking for groundbreaking information for their master’s thesis, and if they do, they’re dumb. My friend Megan has pointed out more than one error and bad writing habit in my blog. I can take these constructive criticisms and use it to expand my abilities. But if I’m a citizen journalist, I should behave like a journalist or strive to. If I pass myself off as a real journalist, then I best be accurate and unbiased.

Comments? Thoughts? Sticks to throw?


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