Over twenty emails and several tweets- I was beginning to loose hope that any journalists were going to find time in their busy schedules to reply back to my enquires. My assigned research entailed contacting credible journalistic sources to feature in my article titled ‘Has Social Media Plagued Journalism For Good?’. So, you can imagine the excitement of seeing an email from the editor of Dorset Life magazine outlining his views on the topic:
Joel Lacey, of Dorset Life, explained how he thought social media has been “both a boon and a bane for professional journalists”. It is advantageous in terms of the helpfulness of user-generated content from Citizen Journalists. If there were, for example, a photograph or video footage of an event it is much easier to acquire than it may well have been. On YouTube there is a channel dedicated to this, ‘Citizen Tube’, there is raw footage of the Libyan crisis and Japanese earthquake. This makes journalists jobs slightly easier and also acts as a database for public use.
On the other hand, Lacey discusses how “much of what is being put out is essentially gossip: repeated or invented material”. This is noticeably a danger zone, as the huge source of information online means sifting through and deeming what is and what is not credible. Admittedly, Lacey says that he has used social media as a starting point to some of his articles for Dorset Life. However, he approaches these stories with caution and they still require sufficient research through conducting interviews and involving other sources.
Still locating primary sources for my research, I contacted other local journalists, as it seemed this is where my research had led me so far. Stephen Bailey who writes for the Daily Echo had some useful insights to contribute with a focus on Twitter:
“I have found Twitter primarily useful for news planning” Bailey said and describes the time when he extracted a story from tweets about the 20th Armored Brigade going to Afghanistan. Agreeing with Lacey, he reinforces Twitter and other sites being useful for photojournalism. Aside from its conveniences and immediacy, Bailey appreciates letters as a form of communication as they are now becoming a rarity in the industry. Events like going to court, covering public meetings and meeting contacts are proactive ways that Bailey feels are the most enjoyable part of his job.
“I find the general belief that anyone can be a writer phenomenally dangerous” Lacey expresses his concerns of Citizen Journalism will make it harder for the professionals to earn a living. Though, I believe that print and broadcast journalism will co-exist with any online material that proceeds to invade the publishing world.
Stephen Jio from Dell has a discusses the effect of Citizen Journalism with students at City University: