Monday, 4 January 2016

Will citizen journalists rule, OK?

By Cleland Thom

A lot of careers have replaced by technology over the last 20 years.

First it was the dockers. Then the car assembly workers. Then the printers.

They all fought hard to save their jobs. But they all failed. Technology always wins. They were swept aside by progress.

Will journalists be next? They might be!

I used to tell trainee journalists: 'You will always need someone like us to do interviews, dig out facts and take photos.'

That's true. But does that someone need to be a 'proper' journalist?

Not necessarily. Citizen journalists have already proved they are capable of covering news events, both big and small.

Our student prove this. People on our sports journalism course, fashion journalism courses and travel journalism course prove that. They are often the first at the press conference, the event, or the disaster. And their words and photos are online before the 'journalist' has left the pub / bed / office!

You've only got to visit sites like Digg and Oh My News to see what citizen journalists can produce. And they're going to get better at it!

Now we journalists will tell you that citizen journalists can never match us for quality and expertise.

But I remember the old typesetters saying the same. They were wrong.
I've read stories written by citizen journalists that are far better than those penned some 'professional' reporters.

The public will have the final say. And they'll support the media that provides the best stories and best photos.

They won't care whether the journalist or photographer was a 'professional'. They are interested in the product - not how it was delivered or who by.

So the message to all journalists is: don't get complacent. Make sure you're the best there is. If you don't, technology may sweep you aside ...

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