And here we go again, again.
Oh the terrible fear which grips the hearts of the keepers of the ivory towers. They throw buckets of holy water from their high windows in a vain effort to frighten away the boogers in the shadows.
It's not the first time we've heard it and at this point I'm pretty sure it will not be the last time.
David Hazinski, Associate Professor of Telecommunications at UGA's Grady School of Journalism, has discovered a looming terror which threatens to unravel the very fabric of our great nation.
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 thought of tearing Prof. Hazinski's article apart clause by scary clause makes my brain hurt. Instead, let me take a few moments to clarify a couple of mythical points which I hear ad nauseum.
Bloggers are not held accountable - Really? I even hear this one from people I respect. It usually follows the line of reasoning that bloggers are not concerned about libel and slander because they don't have deep enough pockets to make a lawsuit worth the trouble.
Firstly, ye learned scribes should return to the back rooms to consult your style guides and many suited lawyers on what constitutes libel. Just because I call someone an asshole does not mean I've committed libel. Especially if it's true.
Secondly, you are going to tell me it logically follows that a libelled party would willingly spend the bags of money required in lawyer fees to go through a multi-year libel case against a big-daddy-corporate-behemoth like the Atlanta Journal Constitution instead of firing off a Cease and Desist letter to my hosting company which would have my blog wiped out of existence almost the minute the thing hit the system administrator's inbox? Really?
Legitimate news organizations have a responsibility to monitor for accuracy - No you don't. And yes you do.
No, you don't because I already have someone monitoring me for accuracy. They are called my readers. And believe me I would get called out a hell of a lot faster than someone writing a letter to the editor which has to wend its way through the seven levels of hell called corporate media before seeing the light of day. Also, my corrections happen right on the front page? Where do yours appear?
And yes you do. Of course you should call us out for inaccuracy. As we will call you out for inaccurate reporting. As everyone should call everyone out. It is the role of the media both traditional and new to be guardians of the truth. However, this does not mean you get to be the final arbiters of truth. Yes, you do have special training in your craft and that should count for something. But do not make the mistake thinking it counts for everything.
Finally. Accreditation? Certification? You've got to be kidding me. How about this? How about we let the market sort things out (as it has been doing for over five years while you lay sleeping)? Despite the continued caterwauling of myth-makers, many who if you ask them directly have never read a blog, new media outlets are not sewage pipes directly connected to Snopes.
Anyone who regularly reads blogs, watches videos or listens to podcasts can tell you instantly which ones are worth the time and which ones are utter crap. They can tell you which ones are credibile and which ones are rumor mongers. They can tell you which ones continue to grow and which ones wither on the vine. Those who have standards and follow them attract an audience. Those that do not become isolated islands of madness with the inhabitant wailing in a lonely wind.
And maybe those would be guardians such as Prof. Hazinski would realize these facts if he would take the time to come down out of his tower and have a conversation with what looms beyond the edge of the forest instead of pretending somehow he can stop the creeping of new growth into the cracks of his foundation.