Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
May 6, 2008 8:34 PM

Is Witnessing The Same As Being A Journalist?

After listening to one of my favourite Podcasts, For Immediate Release - The Hobson and Holtz Report, I was struck with a thought about those who have become Citizen Journalists (pretty much any one of us who can report on any situation be it in text, images, audio and/or video) and traditional Journalists.

There is a stark reality in this world: there are many events (from political to business to social) where reporters are not welcome and/or invited, yet regular people (like you and I) not only have access, but can then turn around and tell our story to the world as simply as hitting the "publish" button on a Blogging platform, uploading a video clip to YouTube or even tweeting it live on Twitter through your mobile device.

This begs the question: should Journalists be given equal access to these "private" events, or should attendees be forced to not publish anything they see, hear or feel?

Something tells me that both questions leave something to be desired. Is the bigger question: how do you - as an event organizer - contain the message as you would like it to be transmitted in a world where every witness is also a Citizen Journalist, Publisher and Pundit?

Something tells me that most of us don't want to deal with questions this deep. We would much rather stick our heads in the sand and, maybe even, sue those who don't follow our rules (much like the old saying goes: "if you don't like, it, I'm taking my ball and going home.").

What if there never were any rules, and everything we saw was commonly "put out there"? See, I don't think it's the fact that people are sharing their thoughts with the world, I think it's the fact that their thoughts can now be seen. heard and felt by the world... and yes, there is a big difference.

Every witness is now a Citizen Journalist. And, like traditional journalism, every truth is sprinkled with each individuals' own perspectives, slants and opinions.

Deal with it.

By Mitch Joel

Comments Comments Feed
  • Posted by Bruno Boutot
    Mitch Joel

    Kevin Kelly:
    "The price of total personalization is total transparency."

  • Posted by Sean McIndoe
    Mitch Joel

    "Is the bigger question: how do you - as an event organizer - contain the message as you would like it to be transmitted in a world where every witness is also a Citizen Journalist, Publisher and Pundit?"

    Today, every witness is a potential journalist, but most don't bother. I suspect the answer to your question is that event organizers who don't want to deal with it will figure out who's likely to talk about them openly, and then not invite those people.

    Of course, as time goes on that means your list of potential invitees gets smaller and smaller. Eventually event organizers, like almost everyone else these days, will need to give up the level of control they're used to. But the music industry has taught us that that process can be a long one.

  • Posted by CT Moore
    Mitch Joel

    Hunter Thompson once pointed out that the only examples of objective journalism that actually exist are the sports scores and possibly the stock market quotes. Maybe UGC will make this a more readily accepted component of our colletive conscience. Whether or not that breeds better citizens or cynical consumers, however, will be interesting to see.

  • You cannot control your message from an event any more than you can control the news cycle. Certainly, we can publish our perspective, but unless you force signed contracts and NDAs on event participants, you can't control the message - and even then, you can't control what someone will say, just the penalties you can exact if they violate contract.

    As an event organizer - many times over now - the best thing you can do is to set the tone as much as possible at the beginning of the event, give people the freedom to record, and if the community is strong, it will self-police any bad actors.

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