Thursday, January 22, 2009

To be a journalist: to publish, to benefit a community

Used to be, we needed people who owned big printing presses or big towers in order to be journalists.  But today, when most people are getting their information online, anyone can publish content.

The business of big media is watching their stocks fall, while watching the rise of citizen journalists.  But what is a citizen journalist, and what makes them different from professional journalists.  Even SPJ, the largest organization of professional journalists, struggles for that definition.

Serena Carpenter gives the best one I've seen: 

“An individual who intends to publish information meant to benefit a community.”
Serena even explains her definition, by reaching into decades-old First Amendment law, then concludes:

"This means citizen journalists and traditional journalists fall under the definition of a journalist," Carpenter says. "Not every person is a journalist, but any citizen can become one."