aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Journalist Priests: on David Hazinski’s risky vision
Journalists have built themselves a pretty exalted temple way up high on a hill. David Hazinski wants to keep it up there:
Supporters of “citizen journalism” argue it provides independent, accurate, reliable information that the traditional media don’t provide. While it has its place, the reality is it really isn’t journalism at all, and it opens up information flow to the strong probability of fraud and abuse. The news industry should find some way to monitor and regulate this new trend.
The premise of citizen journalism is that regular people can now collect information and pictures with video cameras and cellphones, and distribute words and images over the Internet. Advocates argue that the acts of collecting and distributing makes these people “journalists.” This is like saying someone who carries a scalpel is a “citizen surgeon” or someone who can read a law book is a “citizen lawyer.” Tools are merely that. Education, skill and standards are really what make people into trusted professionals. Information without journalistic standards is called gossip.
We citizens may only worship in the temple and genuflect at the altar of journalism. We dare not be full participants. Real, professional, journalism requires that journalists be drained of all ideological energy. Thus, the highly engaging and invigorating ways of the blogosphere must be monitored and regulated.
But the highly paid professional, credentialed journalist is out of touch with - and has a vastly different value system than - those who journalism is meant to serve. Where once salaries were in line with public school teachers and the working class; today celebrity journalists are the de facto ruling elite.
And from that perch they insist the journalistic product must be reduced to the boring and technical “balance” of “both sides” of every story (as if there ever were only two). Partisan vigor may only be expressed in the cable TV colosseum point/counterpoint of the pundit gladiators.
In the end Hazinski is like those who want linguists to regulate language. Bemoaning its latest twist and turns and appalled, for example, that the populace has moved the meaning of “gay” from “jovial” to “homosexual” to “stupid” they wish to command that its meaning be turned back to the earlier, idealized, “lighthearted, cheerful.”
Would that it could be, I might worry. As it is I’ll note that the blogosphere is not the cause of the erosion of traditional journalism’s trust and credibility. Rather, it’s a healthy reaction to it.