This Fall several events have taken place that placed Citizen Journalism into the mainstream. It’s no surprise that Old media has been spoon feed news for sometime; just read the PR newswires then watch the news. Even old media news anchor Dan Rather has spoken out against the mass media establishment; albeit because he was pushed out of that system.
To help reestablish there news gathering abilities every major news outlet has adopted some method of using there listener/viewer as a news reporter. A great idea on paper, but it’s very easy for lazy news gathering organizations to not due their own due diligence on a news story.
There are two recent cases where MAJOR news organizations screwed up. The first was the CBS eyemobile.com Iphone application blunder. CBS built a great Iphone app that connected users with each other and CBS news. The only issue was it appears that no one at CBS was monitoring this. The result was many false news reports which boiled over when three ladies making out was sent to users. As the story and images were basically porn, the errors with the system were quickly realized
To get the full NSFW story about the CBS eyemobile go to Gawker
While the above blunder by CBS likely did not have any real effects other than a loss in productivity there was a instance in October that did have a lasting effect. On the morning of October 3rd the Apple stock took a sharp 10 point drop as news broke that Steve Jobs had been seen at a hospital having a heart attack.
A CNN iReport poster was the alleged source of this rumor which sent shockwaves through out the tech community and apples investors. As these sources are unseen and unconfirmed one would hope that prior to posting this news CNN would have put some sort of gatekeeper filter, sadly no. Instead it was then picked up by Bloomberg and it then spread to all old media networks. While I don’t think information should have gatekeepers, I do believe in a solid fact check when being sent out. If I were apart of the old media industry I would embrace these new sources of information gathering but hire a hit squad of fact checkers and establish your news organization as a true trusted source. Yet in reality old media got to pay the bills and STEVE JOBS DEAD sells. Fortunately the SEC is conducting an investigation and will provide recommendations to protect the market from bogus citizen journalism claims.
Long term the technology is fantastic. Just ask USC photojournalism student James Buck. It all started with a twitter message (tweet) that said, “Arrested”. James on a study abroad in Egypt found himself in a gnarly situation when photographing an anti-government rally. Prior to getting bagged by the Egyptian police he was able to send out the one word tweet that let his family and friends know he was in trouble. That tweet mobilized the media and helped expedite his release. It also helped shine a light on Egypt’s current situation of growing anti-democratic policies.