Morley Safer, journalist and long time co-host of CBS’s famed TV news magazine show, 60 Minutes, recently said, “I would trust citizen journalism as much as I would trust citizen surgery.” Safer’s take on the changing face of journalism is blunt:
“The blogosphere is no alternative, crammed as it is with ravings and manipulations of every nut with a keyboard,” he is quoted as saying. “Good journalism is structured and structure means responsibility.”
Safer understands that journalists are professional media creators who are trained and have considerable experience and expertise in a field of work called journalism. Like doctors or lawyers, journalists bring their knowledge and skill to their jobs every day, which is why they are paid for what they do, and trusted for the stories that they report.
The term “citizen journalist” is probably one of the more misplaced terms coined in recent times. It gets much less of a sideways glance than a term like “citizen surgeon” or “citizen lawyer”. The reason civic or public journalism has emerged with such prominence is because of the advent of social media networks like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and blogs, and the rapid increase in the numbers of people using digital technology on an everyday (every minute) basis.
But, just because one can pick up a Smartphone and take a photo of an incident or Tweet the details of what happened, doesn’t mean one has the skill to craft a well researched, properly structured story. And learning how to do that takes years to learn and decades to perfect.
CNC’s (Community News Commons) training workshops and regular editorial mentorship will not turn you into a professional journalist. The project is designed to assist your efforts in becoming a citizen journalist by giving you some basic skills in how to better tell a story and create effective media. We think that by building this kind of capacity and by aggregating the content generated by citizens of Winnipeg and Manitoba, CNC’s website will be a vibrant, interactive and inclusive community-authored civic media project.