Citizen journalism: Media cover band or just bad karaoke
Citizen journalists have been accused of being both, by some in the mainstream media and the public. Then again, there is MSNBC who rely on Citizen journalists to supplement their news and / or provide personal insight on news stories.
They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Cover bands are an example of imitation some phrasing the verbatim words of their idols or using artistic licence to put their own spin on an original. Citizen journalists report, cover bands sing, yes, there are good ones, some better than their idols and many compared to bad karaoke. Both serve a purpose, providing a service not typically available to the public in their area, something new, or perhaps a different spin to an already established medium.
Citizen journalists and Cover bands are prohibited from calling or implying the original work of others as their own. A cover band is less likely to try and get away with it, otherwise they wouldn’t be called a cover band and why the public go to their venues in the first place. Citizen journalists are under the same rules of plagarism.
Karaoke on the other hand is the art of imitating others available to all, with a ready- made inebriated audience sitting in front of you, complete with beer goggles. Citizen journalists do not have that luxury of a captive audience like a Cover band or lone dead man walking karaoke singer with a bad comb over.
Many citizen journalists are a faceless bunch, their stage is most likely the dining room in front of a keyboard scanning the news around the world and putting electronic pen to internet paper.
There are some in mainstream media who accuse the citizen journalist of parroting original content, yes I said parroting, if I meant pirating I would have spelled it that way. Pirating is the art of theft, parroting is the art of verbatim, with the exception of providing a link to the original author of the story. Granted, there are some Citizen journalists who do both, most likely bloggers looking for hits. The citizen journalist is normally found working for electronic news media organization whose ethics is akin to any mainstream media organization.
Citizen journalists, much like a cover band or the lone karaokist, all provide a need, both to themselves and the public they serve, to showcase their talents to the world, no matter how small the world happens to be in their domain, some succeed, some fail.
A citizen journalist can show their mettle by providing original insight to an already published news story by adding their own expert opinion or using artistic license in breaking the story down into bits and pieces the ordinary layman can understand and how this story affects the public at large.
The bane of mainstream media is the citizen journalist, there are far more unpaid citizen journalists in the world than mainstream media, many armed with a cell phone camera and tape recorder, a citizen journalist in many cases can be on the scene of a breaking news story faster than other media and get their news story out on the web in record time, the middle east conflict is proof of that with many citizens of the area providing news, many mainstream journalist are not privy.
The other side of the coin, a Citizen journalist can delve head long into the investigative role reporting on an already established news story, or develop a breaking news story, stories some mainstream media may fear to tread.
There are instances where a respected TV journalist and staffers in one mainstream media are told to avoid being controversial in their reporting of a news story. Of course perhaps some mainstream reporters decline to report the hard news in order to gain future access to public figures or organizations.
A movie called "The Insider" is one case that centred on the type of controversy Citizen journalists need not fear. It has also been publicly known, some media are bias politically, certainly another case where citizen journalism is needed, they look at both sides of any issue, with no media axe to grind.
Citizen journalists, though a young medium, are a valued asset in the media hungry world of electronic journalism, where readers can access news the world over, written by the ordinary Joe and Jane.
Citizen journalism, though rare, may have the odd journalistic cover bands and bad karaoke, but we are definitely here to stay, bad comb overs and all. So ask yourself, do you have what it takes to be a local citizen journalist?