On 6 April, 2006 the BBC news featured an article entitled "Why we are all reporters now" by Dan Gillmor, director of the Center for Citizen Media, focusing on the changing patterns in journalism. He claims that "we are going to have to all recognize that the old systems are expanding" and strongly advocates the grassroots initiatives in journalism, and the need to combine and complement traditional professionals' work with amateur contributions. So far so good.
He gives a short list of where community actions get materialized (virtualized) on the web, like blogs, podcasts, discussion boards and all of the other conversational tools. Newsvine.com with its revolutionary efforts and unique financial attitude to support non-professional contributors go totally unnoticed in his article. As the author of We the Media, a book about technology and the development of grassroots journalism, and as the director of the nonprofit organization Center for Citizen Media whose „goals are to study, encourage and help enable the emergent grassroots media sphere, with a major focus on citizen journalism," according to Dan Gillmor, I was somewhat surprised to neglect a site that gives the perfect example of the above. Even if the exact domain name is left out, the solution itself deserves more attention on the BBC news, which is a powerful and respected source of information on the European continent. He says "we can all win in that game," which is by far more positive attitude to Samuel Freedman's (New York Times education columnist), who, according to Gillmor, "blasted citizen journalists as, among other things, mere producers of raw material rather than finished product, and opinion-givers in an echo chamber of like-minded amateurs." In contrast, Gillmor suggests that citizen journalists need to be helped with education and training provided by pros to help them "to understand some of the principles that have served the professionals, and their audiences, so well for so long." Undoubtedly, self-made journalists can use good tips, but professional journalists first need to open their eyes up to notice what is going on in the sphere of unprincipled opinion-givers. Rant is over.
Another thing that stuck into my eyes is his seemingly open attitude towards involving amateurs in news formation. He seems to find non-professionals useful for professional journalists, "they should be asking the citizens of the affected communities for help." I think my impression comes from the fact that Gillmor is addressing professional journalist rather than the general audience. Although he says, "we are learning new ways to gather, sift and recombine what we know and learn together," the educational approach does not let me as a reader identify with the 'we' of his statement. Instead of actually supporting and equally recognizing what non-pros do, he appears to be stating, "hey, pros, let's take amateurs more seriously, they can provide good raw material for the real articles." Time will tell. Let it be truly win-win.
I might be mistaken or too sharp in this interpretation, what do you think?