The New York Times is reporting this morning that YouTube has signed a deal with several media companies, including National Public Radio, to help handle video from “citizen journalists.” Citizens can click a link on the media sites and send their “news” reports to them where they can be reviewed by editors for possibly publication on the site.
My first, knee-jerk reaction was, “Dear God, please, no.” My second reaction had something to do with career possibilities in the quick foods markets. The third reaction? Well, let’s just say it involved some level of fascism and religious intolerance …
My dislike of the term “citizen journalist” borders on the obsessive. Isn’t almost every journalist a “citizen journalist?” Okay, perhaps those working for the august Canadian Alien Daily Evening Item up in Idaho aren’t U.S. citizens … but still.
And then there’s my belief that journalism is something practiced by a group of people, in some organized fashion, and not by any individual. An individual can report what happened, but a journalist puts it in perspective – and that perspective comes form having multiple people involved in the process. (This is not a wildly popular differentiation, to be honest, and I haven’t worked all of the loopholes into it yet.) If folks started using the phrase “citizen reporter” I might not have as many convulsive fits. (Stress the might, I’m still not crazy about implying journalists are not citizens.)
Regardless, in the story is this line:
When users go to the Web sites of Politico or The Chronicle, for instance, they will be able to upload to YouTube and flag their video for review by the publication’s editors, who will have the ability to approve or reject the submissions. [Emphasis mine]
Ahhh … there’s how you can make it work – have editors look at it. This is the first step to making user generated content (another awful phrase) work. Of course, it means editors now need to be trained to deal with untrained reporters, which is a whole other post.