Citizen Idiots.

March 7, 2011

The argument rages on about citizen reporters vs journalists. Here’s the comment I just left on a post that wanted to know if citizen journalists were the new paparazzi. I tried to explain that citizen journalists are like the Yeti and UFOs – they don’t exist.

Caveat Emptor still holds true. You need to know the source of whatever content you plan to consume whether it comes from a credentialed journalist or an unqualified, untrained, perhaps unethical and biased citizen REPORTER.

I deign to give citizens the right to use the term journalist in their title because all they have the authority and training to do is ‘report’. To be a journalist requires experience, training and an understanding of the ethics and procedures of the news-gathering exercise.

As I’ve told multiple audiences in my talks around the world, would you like a citizen plumber working on your toilet? Would you enjoy having a citizen dentist monkey around with your wisdom teeth? Maybe you’d like a citizen mechanic working on your car.

A citizen with a camera is a reporter, plain and simple. They are akin to traffic cameras and other devices that can record and provide images of an event.

Please stop with the citizen qualifier before the word journalist – it lessens the entire profession and it’s actually a misnomer.


Social Media Trainer for the Society of Professional Journalists

The post on which I left this comment can be found HERE. Please leave your own comment both here and on that post. Thanks!