The Shift Newspapers Use When They Discuss “Citizen Journalism”

The following was originally published on my Posterous blog “Digidave’s Quickies” – where I often collect my brain musings. I thought it was too good to just leave it there and wanted to see if others had thoughts on this conversation.

OJR had an interesting post out today that is making the rounds. But I see a big problem with it.

Their headline: “The pros and cons of newspapers partnering with ‘citizen journalism’ networks.”

The post was an aggregation of quotes from different newspaper people. All the quotes had good points. The basic rundown.

Pro = We can make money off of it.
Con = We still don’t really trust “them.”

And therein lay the problem: This is a one sided (us vs. them) newspaper centric conversation.

The important pros and cons of citizen journalism have much less to do with newspapers and more to do with…. life.

These are the pro/con I see with citizen journalism and the potential partnering with news organizations.

Pro = a healthy and vibrant conversation is good for democracy.
Con = filter failure.

Interesting the role that newspapers play in relation to this broader picture of citizen journalism.

Pro newspaper relation: Newspapers typically played this role and need to continue doing so and newspapers are hurting (although not because of citizen journalism). So the question is if newspapers are losing their prestigious place as the “4th estate” by recognizing that citizens can play that role without “the press” traditionally understood.

Con newspaper relation: newspapers respond to the filter failure by providing an authoritative voice.

Interesting that the relationship of the pro and con that come to my mind are reversed in their relationship to newspapers. The pro of citizen journalism can be interpreted as a con for newspapers and the con of filter failure can be responded to with a strong editorial voice by newspapers.

Just a late night thought.