Many journalists and digesters of news look askance at the so-called “Ireporters” or people armed with cell phone cameras, digital video recorders, blogs, Twitter and other social media who have the audacity to report news. Sometimes breaking news; sometimes commentary. These untrained members of the public are increasingly participating in the newsgathering process.
Roy Clark of the Poynter Institute has a wonderful posting about these self-declared journalists.He likens them to weekend golfers who support the pros on tour. His argument, to steal a phrase, is that it essentially takes a village to adequately cover the world. News happens and the village concept allows for all to compensate for the smaller number of journalists to cover it. In this line of thinking, Ireporters are valuable supplements to the newsgathering process.
It’s a compelling approach to the inevitable blurring of newsgathering boundaries. Like most rapid change, this shift in reporting includes benefits and dangers. The benefits of more people reporting news are self-evident. Increased coverage can help create a more educated, involved public. The dangers are only slightly less obvious: potentially abusive coverage and commentary that offers more innuendo and falsehood than fact.
We as a society are still struggling with the balance between the two.