Thursday, August 11, 2016
We Are All Journalists
So many of us are journalists, storytellers, relaters of experience. Blogging, vlogging and micro-blogging. Some hoping to be the next Drudge or Huffington, others just needing to speak. Not since the Instamatic camera has our existence been chronicled so richly.
There are all kinds of journalists. Career journalists, science journalists, entertainment journalists and foremost, citizen journalists. All are important and valuable, but a mixed bag. Some career journalists are amateurs and some citizen journalists are professionals. The difference between professionals and amateurs is not a matter of experience. It is a matter of dedication to journalistic standards, ethics and practices. Not everyone has that dedication.
The problem is dedication and commitment are great attributes, but not a great shield from abuse. More and more, as we citizen journalists, we need a shield or two. In this election year we have seen just how badly professional journalists can be abused for seemingly innocuous reasons. The reality is, citizen journalists have been subject to this level of abuse and worse for years.
Professional journalists have some level of support in place, from their colleagues to their publishers. Citizen journalists have no such support network. In many cases intelligent, well-meaning people have been harassed and driven off the internet because their opinions displease some people. We are not talking about radicals, racists or extremists. Can anyone honestly say that reasonable people, even if unpopular, should be abused into silence?
Blogging, vlogging, Tweeting and whatever comes next, should not put users at inordinate risk. It is counter to the concept of a free press. When writers meet basic journalistic standards they should be afforded the same respect and protection as any professional reporter.
As a species we are storytellers. If we don't protect the ways we have to tell our stories, we start becoming less.